ISIS REARS ITS UGLY HEAD IN SOUTHERN SYRIA AND CENTRAL IRAQ

South Front

Tensions between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the Syrian Army are growing in southern Idlib. Recently, government forces repeatedly shelled positions of the terrorist groups in the Zawiya Mountain area. The most intense shelling targeted Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorists near Fatterah and Sufuhon.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the al-Qaeda-affiliated “Wa Harid al-Muminin” operations room described this as a blatant violation of the ceasefire regime and announced that they’d killed several pro-government fighters in retaliatory strikes.

At the same time, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham blocked several Turkish military vehicles near the town of Darat Izza in western Aleppo. According to local sources, the group is opposing the growth of the Turkish military presence there because earlier Turkish-backed forces opposed its attempt to reopen commercial crossings with the government-held area in western Aleppo and eastern Idlib.

Contraband traffic and various fees on commercial activities are an important source of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’s income. Therefore, despite the public declarations to defeat the Assad regime, the group is interested in trade between the militant-held part of Greater Idlib and the government-controlled part of Syria.

Militant groups directly controlled by Turkey also faced a series of attacks. On May 2, a prominent commander of the Sham Corps, known as Haj Talib al-Khatib, survived an assassination attempt receiving light injures. Unknown gunmen on a motorcycle fired on his vehicle on the road linking the towns of al-Nerab and Sarmin. Late on the same day, Abu ‘Arib, a field commander of the Ahrar al-Sham, died from a land mine explosion on the frontline in southern Idlib. A part of Pro-Turkish sources accuses Hayat Tahrir al-Sham of staging such attacks in order to undermine the influence of its Turkish-controlled counterparts even further.

ISIS cells assassinated two Syrian intelligence officers and a supposed Hezbollah member in the province of Daraa in attacks on April 30 and May 2. These assassinations became the latest in a series of ISIS attacks on government forces. Using the instability on the frontline in Idlib, the terrorist group expanded its operations southern Syria.

The ISIS activity is also growing in Iraq.

Early on May 2, ISIS cells carried out coordinated attacks on positions of the Popular Mobilization Forces in the province of Saladin. Nine fighters of the Tigris Regiment were killed near Mukeshefah and a member of the 41th Brigade was killed near Balad. ISIS militants also briefly seized the PMF positions in the Mukeshefah area.

Later on the same day, ISIS terrorists armed with machine guns and sniper rifles fired on a police station in the village of Zaghinah in Diyala province. Four police officers were killed and nine others were injured.

In a separate development, ISIS units detonated an improvised explosive device on the route of a PMF convoy in the district of Udhaim, and then attacked the convoy’s vehicles with machine guns. A soldier was killed and 3 others were injured.

The increasing number of ISIS attacks in late April and early May even drew the attention of the US-led coalition. On April 29, coalition warplanes bombed the ISIS stronghold in the Hamrin Mountains. The strikes followed a PMF security operation in the area. Nonetheless, the following developments in the provinces of Saladin and Diyala demonstrated that the ISIS threat remains an important factor of the security situation in the country.

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RUSSIAN FIGHTER JETS BUZZ US SPY PLANES OFF SYRIAN COAST

South Front

On April 20, gunmen attacked a vehicle of the US-led coalition moving along the road near the village of Roueished in the province of al-Hasakah. Syrian state media reported that the vehicle was destroyed and several US service members were injured in the attack. The US-led coalition has not officially commented on these claims yet.

This became the second report of this kind, which appeared in media this month. On April 6, Hezbollah-linked al-Mayadeen TV said that militants killed a US soldier and several members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. If these attacks really took place, it is likely that the supposed US soldiers killed in the attacks were in fact US-linked private military contractors. Therefore, the Pentagon does not report them as casualties among US personnel.

Syrian security forces seized weapon caches belonging to radical militants near Damascus and Quneitra. The seized weapons and equipment included a Malutka anti-tank missile, several RPG rounds, machine guns, mortars, hand grenades, satellite broadcasting and telecommunications devices, medical equipment and even several cars.

The Damascus countryside and the southern part of Syria have been for long time formally liberated from terrorists. Nonetheless, government forces regularly face various kinds of terrorist activity in these areas. Terrorist cells operating there receive support from the militant held parts of northern and western Syria, and the terrorist threat cannot be fully removed as long as these areas remain in the hands of radical militant groups protected by Turkey.

On April 19 and April 15, Russian fighter jets intercepted US Navy P-8A Poseidon spy planes off the Syrian coast. The increased US reconnaissance activity in the eastern Mediterranean often comes ahead and ahead of the escalation of the conflict. It is possible the Washington leadership also believes that the military situation in Greater Idlib also has chances to explode in the near future.

Since the signing of the March 5 de-escalation agreement in Moscow, Turkey and Russia have achieved no progress in its implementation besides the establishing ceasefire regime in southern and eastern Idlib. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other radical groups used the pause to fortify their positions in the region. Turkey also used this time to deploy additional troops and equipment there. Ankara’s actions demonstrate that it is in fact allied with al-Qaeda-linked groups in Idlib. So, its forces are likely preparing for a new confrontation with the Syrian Army.

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US-TRAINED MILITANTS SURRENDER TO SYRIAN ARMY. ISRAEL TRIES TO ASSASSINATE HEZBOLLAH COMMANDERS

South Front

On April 15th, 27 members of Maghawir al-Thawra, a militant group in the Al-Tanf zone, which is both funded and trained by the US-led coalition, surrendered to the Syrian Army with all of their weapons and equipment. These included 9 vehicles, 11 weapons including 4 heavy machine guns and 5 grenade launchers, as well as up to 7,000 rounds of ammunition of various calibers for small arms, more than 20 RPG rounds, and 6 high-tech communication devices.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, while the Maghawir al-Thawra members were moving to surrender, they were attacked by US-controlled forces and lost 3 vehicles.

Oleg Zhuravlev, chief of the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria said militants confessed that “they had been trained by US instructors to commit acts of sabotage at the oil-and-gas and transport infrastructure facilities, as well as to organize terror attacks on territories controlled by Syrian government forces.”

Later on the same day, Russian and Turkish forces conducted a 4th joint patrol along the M4 highway in southeastern Idlib. As on the previous occasions, the patrol took place along a short chunk of the highway west of Saraqib. The rest of the safe zone area agreed by Russian and Turkish leaders on March 5 in Moscow remains in the hands of radical militant groups.

In an official statement released on April 14, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham announced that it had formed 3 new units: the Talhah ibn Ubaydullah Brigade, led by Abu Hafs Binnish, the Ali ibn Abi Talib Brigade, led by Abu Baker Mheen and the Zubayr ibn al-Awam Brigade, led by Abu Mohamad Shura. The group provided no insight into the number of fighters in the new units or their tasks, but the estimated number of the new force is about 1,500.

Last month, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham launched a large recruitment campaign to revive its depleted special forces, the “Red Bands,” as well as its Inghimasi [suicide bombers] force.

Despite the fact that militants profit from the ceasefire regime with direct military protection from Turkey and are using the gained time to re-arm their units and train new fighters, they see any kind of Turkish cooperation with Russia as a direct threat to their interests. In some cases, this even leads to acts of aggression and threats against their sponsor’s forces.

For example, in a video which recently appeared online, members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham were threatening to behead Turkish soldiers moving along the M4 highway and pin their heads to the top of the nearby earth barrier. This is the real face of the so-called moderate opposition that Ankara supports in Greater Idlib.

On April 15, an airstrike targeted an SUV in the town of Jdaidit Yabws right on the border with Lebanon. The vehicle allegedly belonged to Hezbollah, which has become the target of Israeli missiles. The first one missed allowing the passengers to exit the vehicle a few moments before it was hit by the second missile.

The UAE-based Sky News Arabia and al-Arabiya claimed that high-ranking commanders of Hezbollah were the target of the Israeli strike.

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Militants Surrendered to Syrian Army Were Trained on US Military Base

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on 

Idlib, Syria

Sputnik-World
The surrendered militants said that US instructors had been preparing them for terrorist acts and sabotage at oil and gas and transport facilities, according to the information provided by the Russian military’s centre for the Syrian reconciliation.

A group of 27 militants who surrendered to the Syrian army said they had been trained at the US military base, Rear Adm. Oleg Zhuravlev, the head of the Russian Defence Ministry’s centre for the Syrian reconciliation, said during a briefing on Wednesday.

The US also provided them with weapons and vehicles, he added.

“As a result of the clash, the militants who broke through lost three pickups, 27 people escaped, they are currently under the protection of Syrian government forces in Palmyra. They surrendered dozens of small arms, grenade launchers and heavy machine guns, including Western-made ones”, Zhuravlev said.

On the night from 13 to 14 April, a group of militants, who were trained at the US forces’ base in the vicinity of the Rukban camp, tried to get out of At-Tanf area. The militants planned to surrender to government and return to civilian life, Zhuravlev said. On the border of the 55-kilometer security zone, they were attacked by a detachment of the US-backed Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra (“Revolutionary Commando Army”) radical group.

“According to the testimony of the members of the illegal armed groups who surrendered to the government, the Americans provided them with pickup vehicles and weapons. US instructors trained them to carry out sabotage at oil and gas and transport infrastructure, as well as organise terrorist acts in the territory controlled by the Syrian government forces”, he said.

The armed conflict between the Syrian government and opposition groups, including terrorists, began in 2011. By 2016, terrorist forces were significantly subdued, while the government and opposition concluded a ceasefire, with Russia, Iran, and Turkey acting as its guarantors.

Militants remain in control of a small pocket of areas in the Idlib province in northwest Syria.

كلهم إرهابيون

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سواء أبقى القيادي المدعو “أبو مالك التلي” على استقالته من “هيئة تحرير الشام” أم تراجع عنها كما تسرب مؤخرا، فإن الأمر لن يغيير من حقيقة أن “جبهة النصرة” التي تتخذ من الهيئة واجهة لها، وتتلقى دعما تركيا وأميركا، مصنفة على اللوائح الدولية كتنظيم إرهابي، واجتثاثه وغيره من التنظيمات الإرهابية حق مشروع للدولة السورية تكفله القوانين الدولية.

ومما لا شك فيه، أن الأنباء تأتي في سياق محاولات النظام التركي وأميركا المتواصلة والرامية إلى نزع صفة الإرهاب عن التنظيم، وتحويله إلى “كيان سياسي”، أملا في استمرار سيطرته على بقعة جغرافية في شمال غرب سورية لاستخدامه في تنفيذ سياستهما في سورية.

فمنذ توقيع “اتفاق موسكو” في الخامس من آذار الماضي والذي نص على وقف إطلاق النار في منطقة خفض التصعيد بادلب وعلى تسيير دوريات مشتركة على طريق اللاذقية – حلب الدولية، ومن ثم قيام إرهابيين بعرقلة إتمام تسيير هذه الدوريات، كثر الترويج عن وجود إرهابيين “متشدديين” قبلوا الاتفاق وآخرين “أكثر تشددا” رفضوه علانية، منهم التلي وأبو الفتح الفرغلي وأبو اليقظان المصري، وكذلك وجود تنظيمات إرهابية “متشددة” يمكن لنظام أردوغان السيطرة عليها مثل “النصرة” وأخرى “أكثر تشددا” لا يستطيع السيطرة عليها ورفضت الاتفاق مثل “حراس الدين” و”الحزب التركستاني”.

أيضا بعد توقيع الاتفاق، تزايد الحديث في وسائل الإعلام التركية وأخرى إقليمية ودولية، منها أميركية، عن أن المرحلة المقبلة ستشهد تغيرا في سياسة “الهيئة” المدعومة بقوة من نظام أردوغان، مع تلميحات إلى عمليات إقصاء ستطال القيادات “الأكثر تشددا” فيها، في إشارة إلى رافضي “اتفاق موسكو”، إضافة إلى عمليات استئصال ستطال التنظيمات “الأكثر تشددا”.

وإن كانت التطورات السابقة تؤكد المؤكد بأن النظام التركي والولايات المتحدة الاميركية تسعيان لرفع صفة الإرهاب عن تنظيم مصنف دوليا أنه “ارهابي” ودعمه من أجل استمرار سيطرته على جزء من الأراضي السورية، فإنه من المفيد تذكير الطرفين بأن سورية قيادة وجيشا وحكومة وشعبا ماضية بكل ما أوتيت من قوة باستعادة سيطرتها على كل شبر من الأراضي السورية وتطهيرها من رجس التنظيمات الارهابية بكل مسمياتها ومن كل الإرهابيين بغض النظر عن ألقابهم من الجولاني إلى التلي إلى الفرغلي الى المصري و غيرهم، فكلهم إرهابيون.

موفق محمد – الوطن

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INFIGHTING AMONG TURKISH PROXIES ERUPTS IN SYRIA. ROCKET STRIKE HITS US-OPERATED OIL FACILITY IN IRAQ

South Front

Infighting among Turkish-backed groups has erupted near the town of Ras al-Ayn. According to local sources, conflicts over the captured houses and looted properties became the main reason of the conflict between members of the Sultan Murad armed group which attacked other Turkish-backed rebels. The situation rapidly escalated to the extent when the Turkish Army had to deploy additional troops and equipment in the area in order to put an end to the infighting. At the same time, the Turkish Army continued deploying additional troops and military equipment in the province of Idlib.

Last night, nearly 30 trucks and military vehicles entered Syria and reached the countryside of the town of Jisr al-Shughur, controlled by al-Qaeda-linked militants. Two days ago, the Turkish Army established 3 new observation points there.

A US military convoy consisting of 35 trucks laden with military and logistic supplies entered Syria from northern Iraq. The convoy entered the country via the al-Walid border crossing controlled by the US military and US-backed Kurdish armed groups and moved supplies to US military facilities in the countryside of al-Hasakah. According to Syrian sources, the US military is now working to reinforce its positions near the Khrab al-Jeer military airport.

Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV claimed that a US soldier and several members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces had been killed in an attack by radical militants on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, in the province of Deir Ezzor. Earlier, similar claims were made by several pro-Kurdish and pro-opposition sources. The situation remains unclear. However, over the past 2 months ISIS cells have ramped up their operations in the provinces of Homs and Deir Ezzor.

On April 6, a barrage of rockets struck near the oil-rich area near Iraq’s southern city of Basra. The strike hit the Zubeir oil field operated by the US company Halliburton in the Burjesia area. According to state-run Basra Oil Co., which oversees oil operation in the south, the attack had not affected production and export operations.

The April 6 strike became the first such attack since June 2019 and came only 2 days after Iraqi resistance groups released a joint statement calling US forces in Iraq occupants and in fact threatening them with a military action.

Since January 2020, there has been an increase in rocket attacks on US forces and facilities in Iraq. However, until now, all attacks were aimed against the sites affiliated with the US military and intelligence. The April 6 attack indicates that US energy giants that operate in Iraq are also in danger.

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The War of Terror on Syria Through Forensic Medicine 2 – GRAPHIC

April 2, 2020 Arabi Souri

Syria - War of Terror through Forensic Eyes

This is Part 2 of a documentary series by investigative reporter Ugarit Dandash, the documentary is part of Ms. Dandash’s From the Ground documentary series where she reports from Syria the horrors the Syrian people lived inflicted on them by the USA and all its cronies, lackeys, and stooges combined efforts over the past 9 years.

From the Ground – The Syrian War through the Eyes of Forensic Medicine was made exclusively for the Lebanese Al Mayadeen news station in Arabic. It was aired on Thursday night 26 March 2020.

All countries which supported the ‘freedom fighters’, ‘armed opposition’, ‘moderate rebels’, call them whatever Orwellian name that suits you, are an accomplice in each crime committed against the Syrian people, needless to say, that each taxpayer and each citizen of those countries has much blood on their hands especially those who keep quiet hiding behind the ‘democracy elections’ delusion while their governments kill in their names, murder using their money, destroy families and hide behind the ‘democracy’ slogan, and not being held by those citizens for the crimes they committed all over the world. If you didn’t know for over 9 years what your government did in Syria, this will leave you with no excuse.

The video file size is beyond the capacity of our site, our YouTube channel was long deleted by YouTube, so we had to split it into two parts embedded below, followed by the transcript in English of the full video for history. Please excuse any typos, it was definitely unintentional.

Part 1 of 2, Episode 2:

For Episode 1:

The War of Terror on Syria Through Forensic Medicine – GRAPHIC

English translation transcript:

The War in the Eyes of Forensic Medicine – 1

Report by Ugarit Dandash

A story that took a huge media sensation was that of journalist Marie Colvin, the forensic medical report proved that what happened was the opposite and that the state did not kill her, but the gunmen themselves who were using her were the ones who got rid of her.

The shape of the distribution of shrapnel and the nail, this is proof that it is not a shell but an improvised primitive handmade grenade.

Ochlik (Remi Ochlik) and Marie Colvin died instantly, the injuries were not survivable.

There was the story of the photojournalist Remi Ochlik, on March 2, 2012, a body buried in the Baba Amr neighborhood was examined, by a forensic examination, we saw extensive wounds with extensive material loss and stable shrapnel in the body. There was talk of negotiations to transfer him for treatment with renowned journalist Marie Colvin. The forensic report concluded that the death was direct and immediate, and that all the negotiations were fictitious and false.

At that time, it was said in the media that the Syrian government had been asked to agree to evacuate injured foreign journalists in the Baba Amr neighborhood in cooperation with the Red Crescent for treatment, I say that the nature of the injuries that exist does not allow for life.

Question: Was it an immediate death?

A: It was an immediate death, so there was an attempt to smuggle bodies or smuggle other journalists into a particular convoy.

The role of forensic medicine in identifying unidentified bodies is the essential and important role, as the ring begins with forensics. We study any unknown remains and conduct photographs in coordination with the Criminal Security Branch and the Burial Office, where the same number given by the forensic doctor is circulated through the Criminal Security Branch and the Burial Office and then burial as soon as the studies are completed.

There were bodies that were re-examined in the countries to which it was sent to, it caught my attention in one of the reports I read the word “hand-made” means in English Hand Made, this phrase was translated from Arabic to Local Made, a phrase that if translated in good faith it is not true, because the local bomb It may be made and it may be made by the gunman in Syria, but when you say Hand Made, it means that it is often made by a terrorist, not by an army.

We were able to identify the injuries in decomposing bodies, there were injuries of explosive nature.

In Aleppo city, there are many unidentified remains, with the number so far reaching 3,225 unidentified remains, more than 1,000 have been identified so far.

As a forensic pathologist, there is always a high risk, and the main danger was like any citizen of Aleppo at the time who was liable to die, the missiles did not exclude a meter. If I draw you a masterplan for Aleppo, I can show you where the shells landed, I memorize them.

All those I have examined, especially the children, have been ghosts following me until now, and this crisis can be added to the forensic doctor’s crises.

The external looks of the forensic doctor or his personality may be solid, but that does not reflect what happens inside the forensic doctor, how many scars have left a pain? Sometimes I see cases where I hold my tears and leave a lot of pain in me, there are situations I can’t forget.

War through the Eyes of Forensics 2

Investigation by Ugarit Dandesh

The high temperature, the large number of corpses, and the decay that has occurred is a hotbed of sepsis. We were putting the bodies near the campus of the university hospital and the patients and their families up to the seventh floor complained about the smell, sometimes the bodies were stretching over an area of 100 meters, the view was very harmful, so we expedited the forensic examination, and we were exposed to dangers, for example, one time I was examining the body of a foreign fighter and was surprised to find the explosive belt and some bombs with him. We immediately asked the competent authorities to come and deal with the matter.

We, as forensic doctors, like everyone else, heard about foreign journalists in Syria and then we heard that a journalist, Marie Colvin, was killed in Syria and the media claimed that she was hit by a regime-guided missile and targeted in Baba Amr. We received information after a while that a group of bodies were buried in a place in Baba Amr and there is a suspicion that foreign journalists are among them. A specialized team under the supervision of the Civil Defense dug up these graves and was brought to the military hospital in Homs, I had moved at that time to the military hospital building because the National Hospital was directly targeted and blown up and there was no possibility to continue working there and we needed protection.

When we identified Marie Colvin’s body, at this time we collected information about Marie Colvin so that we could identify her, Marie Colvin found that her left eye was covered and that she had been injured while working as a journalist, and also we found that she had 26 dental implants and that she had a silicon ring behind the eye ball. This information is from the Internet.

Upon examination of the bodies, it was found that she was wearing a man’s clothes, which may have been for cold reasons or for field reasons, and only the upper clothes and underneath were wearing a woman’s clothes. Immediately the autopsy was carried out in the appropriate places we saw the silicon ring under the left eye and it is well documented we have, dental implants have been documented, a radial scan of Marie Colvin’s body has been performed and the important thing in this matter and what we are distinguished in documentation is the presence of irregular polymorphic fragments inside the body, including a nail. This needs to be analyzed and read:

First, we learned that this body belonged to Marie Colvin, but we had to read what happened. The bottom line is that Marie Colvin was not killed by a guided missile, but killed by a home-made bomb, because when you find irregular shrapnel in a body, nails, or shots, it’s a homemade bomb because regular armies use regular missiles, regular bullets, while the average person when he makes a package fills them with anything, like iron scatters or something, the presence of such objects on the x-ray indicates that they were killed by a homemade bomb.

She was killed on February 22, 2012, and the body was found on March 2, 2012, almost 10 or 12 days later.

The other thing that we were able to analyze as forensic doctors, at that time it was said in the media that the Syrian government was asked to agree to evacuate the injured foreign journalists who are in the Baba Amr in cooperation with the Red Crescent for treatment, I say that the nature of the injuries that exist does not allow life, death was immediate, so there was an attempt to smuggle bodies or smuggle other journalists into a particular convoy. Because Oshlik and Marie Colvin were killed instantly, when they were injured, they were killed instantly.

Q: You mean the same type of injury for both?

A: I mean the injury is not viable, when you see Marie Colvin’s body and you see the injuries on it and the shrapnel and it’s documented you will see that this person is unviable, he was injured and lost life immediately within minutes, so Marie Colvin did not go through the stage of an injured journalist, she was killed immediately…

Q: Means it can’t be negotiated as an injured?

A: There was something else out of this. I remember when we exhumed the bodies from the grave it the names were written on the shroud, which helped us to identify, it was written in French, Oshlik and Marie Colvin on the shroud.

Question: But forensics can’t be based solely on writing?

A: Certainly not, we did research and saw dental implants that are also documented by photocopies and the silicon ring is also documented by photocopiers.

Q: Was writing in French, not English?

Answer: In French.

Q: Is it possible that there are other French people?

A: Either other people are French or people who are fluent in French, this is a theory only this thought occurred to me because it helped me with the process of identification because the main task for which I came out is to find the bodies of Marie Colvin and Oschlik. The quick scanning of the bodies that I brought and noticing the presence of writing on the shroud at that time helped me get my job done more quickly.

Q: Do you think, by examining the bodies and according to medical data, that they were killed in the same place and time, or that there is a difference between them?

A: Marie Colvin’s body had glass scatters on it, either killed in a car or killed in a house with glass, which is unlikely because no one sits in a room with glass in a war. So, I think she was killed in a car and this is a personal conclusion that I cannot defend scientifically, but this is my observation.

Q: What did you do with the bodies of foreign fighters?

A: We are certainly examining all the bodies that we receive professionally and write their reports, those of them who have special status are fully examined and properly buried, we are a state of institutions, but about their numbers that is in the custody of the competent authorities, we do not interfere with this subject, we end our work when we hand over the body and bury it in a decent manner. In our field, we never interfere with politics, we are a medical authority that respects the oath we have sworn. Indeed, I assure you that all opposition or foreign fighters are systematically screened and properly buried, this is an institutional state.

Dr. Manal Jada, Head of the Forensic Medical Center in Latakia: At this time I remember the first massacre (in Latakia province) that was the Massacre of Slanfah, the massacres in the villages of the northern countryside in Slanfah, in which large numbers of martyrs of all age groups were killed, children, elders and women. Events began on August 4, 2011, injuries began to come to the National Hospital and all government hospitals and others in the Latakia area, and the numbers were large and the injuries were enormous, and the death toll is large more than 80 deaths arrived on August 4.

Two weeks later mass graves were discovered…

Question: After the army liberated the villages?

Answer: Yes, on August 19 and August 20, I will mention the large graves, in the first grave we discovered 67 martyr victims, in the grave that followed the number reached 128, and the number in three graves on 19 and 20 August reached 152 martyrs.

Then we began to discover individual graves, such as a grave in the village of Beit Shikohi, other than the one in Nabbata and Baluta, and graves where there were large numbers, we discovered six or seven graves in each area, in Al-Kashba, Beit Shikohi, for example… The total numbers with us have reached 262.

The bodies were at an advanced degree of decay and the main task on our shoulders was to identify the victims, there were entire families buried, I do not like to remember these incidents because it was repeated, another massacre in Jableh on 23 May 2015, this date is etched in my memory, May 23, 2015, I remember how I was during my shift and it was a Monday, suddenly we started receiving severe injuries diverted from the Jableh area. There were three terrorist bombings in the Jableh area, the Jableh Bus Garage area and the electricity area, and in the garages there a large number of citizens gathered, and the third most horrible massacre at the same time was inside the National Hospital in Jableh.

Q: When the booby-trapped ambulance went in and exploded?

A: The car got in and exploded, and the whole hospital was blown out, the entire medical staff was killed, our colleagues were doctors we examined their bodies, nurses, children, patients, we had 132 martyrs.

Dr. Hashim Shalash, Head of the Forensic Medical Center in Aleppo: There are many graves in the gardens in most of Aleppo, especially in areas previously controlled by armed terrorist groups, and there are graves in areas that were controlled by the state because the Burial Office was unable to carry the deaths to the cemeteries, because of the cordon imposed by the militants on the outskirts of Aleppo city completely.

The number is expected to be around 5,700 bodies buried in the parks, moved in 2018 and 2019 by the Burial Office. This statistic is according to the Burial Office: Some 1,700 identified bodies have been moved, and the remaining approximately 4,000 unidentified bodies we are working to identify, and the identified bodies have been moved in well-thought-out organizational plans by the Burial Office and the City Council and moving them to the modern cemetery. For the unidentified bodies, photographing and coordinating with the CID, DNA samples are taken to better study and identify them.

One evening I left the forensics office in the University Hospital late and the mortars started pouring on us from all sides, I thought that if I died, there would be no forensic doctor to examine the cases, and it’s a disaster that there’s no forensic doctor left, I’ve stayed alone, and if I die, there won’t be another forensic doctor in the city. . We were suffering a lot. Then the army started intervening and the situation improved, but we had suffered as a forensic sit-in a lot. I’m saying this so you know how much the forensic doctor has suffered as a human being. Forensic doctors were killed from us, forensic doctors were kidnapped from us, forensic doctors from us were subjected to massive torture by the gunmen, and a number of forensic doctors emigrated. I used to come out of my house and look around and say to myself that it is very possible that I will not go home, this is a time when I was in Aleppo and before it in Idlib, today could be my last day.

I go into the morgue and look and think when is my turn between these bodies from the number of shells that were coming down on us. As a forensic doctor we were in high risk, the main risk like any citizen of Aleppo city at the time is liable to die, the missiles did not exclude a meter, I can draw you the plan of Aleppo and explain to you where the missiles came down, I save their place because all those who examined them and especially the children remained until now ghosts haunt me, and this crisis adds to the crises The coroner, especially the children I have examined, the cries of their parents is following me. If I tell you some stories, dozens of episodes won’t be enough of how much tragedies we’ve witnessed.

Q: Did any international body or media outlet that Marie Colvin was working for ask you, because of the great controversy that occurred at the time, to send your reports to them or contact you? Because at that time, the Syrian state was held responsible, which was giving the data at the time. Have you dealt with this issue directly?

A: For me as a forensic doctor, I am accompanied by a judicial disclosure body, which is headed by a judge with the CID. I duly handed over all these documents to the courts, like for any body that is examined, we documented everything according to the official channels and handed over to the official authorities and no one asked us about this subject, and we did not talk about it, we did not talk we were a period that we do not dare to talk about, and more than one media outlet asked me for an interview and I refused because we did not have confidence in any of them to give them the information which they would misuse. We had no doubt that the media in the whole world was like that, and that was the reality.

But it was documented in accordance with the judicial principles in which we operate in accordance with Syrian law and the body was handed over. When the bodies were re-examined in the countries to which it went to, But it caught my attention in one of their reports written in English they wrote that Marie Colvin was killed by a ‘local-made’ bomb, and this is a phrase that if translated in good faith it is not true, because the local bomb may be manufactured by the Syrian army and may be manufactured by the gunman in Syria, but when you say ‘hand-made’ it means it was mostly made by a terrorist and not made by armies, this translation was wrong, this is how the reading of things was done, this is one of the notes that I noticed in one of the translations and you can search you will find the word Local Made and you will not find the word Hand Made although in my report in Arabic the word Hand Made is written.

The bodies are decaying, we were able to identify the injuries, there were injuries of an explosive nature, and we had injuries of multiple gunshot wounds i.e. conventional fire weapons such as Kalashnikovs or others, we had injuries though it seemed as of gunshot fire, its head was explosive, because the injuries are wide at the time we see damage in the head, for example, and limited to this injury, we had various injuries with all the weapons, whether explosive or military, we saw burned bodies, we saw burned bodies of children, burned, completely charred.

Q: Was the burn done before death? Have they been burned alive?

A: It was difficult because we did the examination after two weeks, i.e. after digging, there are also weapons that cause burns, I can’t say exactly if they are during life or not, we can confirm if it happens during life if there is not that much decomposition, if it is not long since the time of the accident, the discovery of the graves started rolling after September, the bodies were largely decomposed.

Q: Was there dismembering or slaughter?

A: We saw severed and buried heads; we saw an entire family buried inside a well.

Q: Can the forensics in this case determine whether the bodies were thrown alive (inside the well) or killed and then thrown?

A: Biomarkers are the specialty of forensic medicine, but the way I will explain is a difficult scientific method, we can determine, and it is our job to determine whether he drowned before or after.

Q: Is it possible to mention even a little because the subject of drowning in particular is repeated frequently during the war, some were still alive when they were thrown into the river and others elsewhere?

Answer: Of course there are vital signs when the body is recovered shows whether it inhaled water or killed and dumped after death with water, and of course the sooner we examine the bodies in cases of drowning the more accurate the result, because after the recovery of the body and within two hours there decomposing accelerates, once recovered from the water the rapid decomposing occurs more than a week or two more than if the body is in the open.

After the break:

I have examined many mass graves, the bodies and the remains piled up on top of each other, the remains mingle, and of course if the exhumation is not correct, we will never reach results.

Journalist Jacquier was moving in the neighborhoods of Homs, a mortar shell landed, during which time more than one person was injured in the same incident, it is not possible to say that Jacquier was targeted.

In all honesty, forensics was not ready for such a war and such consequences, and there is a very important problem that most of the forensic facilities were destroyed, for example in Aleppo there was a very large and civilized building that was occupied and destroyed by the militants in a barbaric manner.

What we could notice on the body of Jacquier that there were 3 craters. when we examined them, it was possible to read that each fragment of them had a different axis, when you see three fragments of different axes that often gave the impression that it was caused by an explosion rather than a sniper.

At first the forensic doctors suffered because of the existence of specific cases that we haven’t seen of its kind, types of weapons we do not know what they are, and then the forensic doctors practiced and had sufficient experience and knowledge of how to deal with all cases.

The cases I remember are children, severe injuries to children. What is the psychological state of a child who suffered pre-death, I reveal a dead body but I always put myself (in that place): during the child’s period of torture, was death a mercy for him?

The whole of Syria is suffering from the sanctions on (lab) material, imagine there are sanctions on importing DNA lab testing kits, what humanity is the West is preaching? These DNA testing kits are only used to identify corpses, what does it have to do with politics?

We have periodic courses more than one course a year in cooperation with the International Red Cross and supervised by the General Authority for Forensic Medicine, and we have the problem that there are very few forensic doctors in Syria.

My ambition is to make a file for all the missing under the supervision of the General Authority for Forensic Medicine, to have data on nation level, not only to depend on cross-examining data, it’s a costly project, it will take time but let’s start it.

There was a crossing between us and the gunmen in Bustan Al-Qasr, the people use it to cross from one side (of Aleppo) to the other, the gunmen’s sniper was always targeting the civilian citizens, civilians crossing to buy their items, there was a siege on us and the materials in the eastern areas were cheaper as the people risked their lives and enter the eastern areas to buy their stuff and then come back. There were people who wanted to come to the western areas under state control for the sake of medicine because it was much better, to go to university and others, and they were sniped.

On average, at some point in 2014 and 2015, each day we received between two and three martyrs and six or seven were injured, the opposition were always lying to the people saying that the sniper targeting these civilians going through the crossing was from the state. As forensics, our role was essential and important, we have proven with conclusive evidence that sniping is from east to west and not from the west to the east, which means that the sniper who targets civilians is from the opposition. We always photograph the martyrs and record a precise report and we are prepared to prove conclusively to any UN body that comes to investigate that the sniper was from the gunmen and not from the state side. Here is an important point in how forensics can establish the truth and refute the allegations.

We have long patience with the relatives (of the martyrs), there are many of them who come to us and we explain to them where the entry nozzle and the exit nozzle, we explain the difference between them, so that there is no doubt about it.

Journalist Jacquier was traveling in the neighborhoods of Homs and filming and he entered legitimately and had a license to go in and move around, at that time a mortar shell fell in the area where he was and some people were injured and then a second shell fell, and I think he lost life with the second shell because people ran in this direction, I do not recall the circumstances but there was more than one mortar shell, in that period there were more than one person injured in this same incident, it cannot be said that Jacquier was targeted, in theory, and I have a large number of names who were injured in that period with Jacquier.

Jacquier was transferred to one of the charitable hospitals in Wadi Al-Dhahab, the Nahda hospital, and we were taken to him for examination, and the French ambassador was present at the time, a doctor, and the governor was also present and the official authorities of the importance of the subject. We moved to examine a body in a hospital that was not equipped (for forensics), and simple tools were used to examine the body because there was a risk of going to the military hospital, which became the headquarters of forensic medicine.

It was noted that there are 3 entry craters of fragments on the body of Jacquier, by studying the entry nozzles with their location (in the body) it can be read that each fragment of them had a different axis, when there are 3 fragments of different axes, 3 traces of fire from different axes, it often gives the impression in principle that it is caused by an explosion and not a sniper.

The second thing is that their radial shape seemed irregular, and I told the French ambassador at the time, a doctor, that Syrian law requires us to exhume the body and remove the existing fragments, but I will not do that because we feel that everyone will not believe us and accuse us of tampering with the body, and I added that the extraction of fragments is different from extraction of bullets, because the fragment does not play any role in determining the type of weapon while the gunshot plays a role in identifying the type of weapon so since the lack of this importance I told him that I will leave the body with its evidence because I know that it will be re-examined in France.

We know that it was reexamined, reports came out and calls for prosecution, and then all gone.

Q: The French state didn’t file a case?

A: The French state did not claim because I think someone read things correctly and we are well documented, and in addition, international investigators have to investigate on the ground at the crime scene, there were martyrs with Jacquier in the same incident, and there were large numbers of injuries, all of them can’t be sniped, but as a result of a mortar shell, even the crater of the mortar shell was on the ground and photographed and documented.

Q: Did the French ambassador examine it?

A: It was examined by the CID who photographed it and documented it.

Q: The French ambassador was still in Syria?

A: We don’t have to, as a Syrian judiciary with independent sovereignty, to bring the (French) ambassador to defend ourselves, I’m doing our proper documentation and we brought a French translator who was communicating with us through him.

Q: Could he have obtained approvals and worked through legal frameworks; the Syrian state may have given him approvals?

A: The French ambassador was informed and since he was a doctor, I explained everything to him in detail, even I told him that there was a friend of ours, Henry Kudan, a doctor friend of ours in Syria who we know through conferences and we have confidence in him to examine to Jacquier, and as I told you some noise appeared and then disappeared and we no longer hear about it.

I don’t like to remember the massacres, but I met the people and they were around us. The stench of the bodies of the martyrs we uncovered it was strong, but the cases I remember were the children, the deep injuries in children, I remember the reaction of the relatives standing next to us and around us, and we were interested in identifying the bodies through clothing or personal identity, and these humanitarian cases that catch my eye with this massacre that when I was starting to strip the bodies I was looking for someone who had some paper money and hid them, for example, under the armpit, as well as personal identity the elderly on the run are thinking to take light-loaded thing that can help them. I’ve seen more human cases than the injuries I’ve seen, God bless them all, but the horror they’ve experienced before such cases of violence on the dead and torture affects me a lot, affects any forensic doctor and affects any human being.

What was the psychological state of the child who was tortured before death, I am examining a dead body but I always put myself (in that place): during the period of torture the child went through, was death a mercy for him?

Q: Was the forensic medicine with its equipment and medical staff prepared to deal with such cases? In the end there are scientific things and there are things that need possibilities, we are today when you talk about such a volume of work in a country that has lived in peace for so long, how did the medical staff cope?

Answer: In all honesty, forensics was not ready for such a war and such consequences, and there is a very important problem that most of the forensic facilities were destroyed, for example in Aleppo there was a very large and civilized building that was occupied and destroyed by the militants in a barbaric manner, the forensics was initially not ready but adapted quickly and was able to readjust with the conditions of war. There are some scientific things for example we were sending them to Damascus, we took samples and sent them to Damascus, we have nothing to analyze with, for example, we were doing the autopsy, I sometimes dissected bodies with a scalpel, there was no other option, the headquarters was destroyed and we have to continue working, we need to extract the gunshot and prove many facts, so in Aleppo I sometimes carried out the autopsy with a scalpel, the second weapon is the camera that we needed to document the cases, the things that needed sophisticated equipment we sent it to Damascus, such as with chemicals and other wise.

Q: Did scientific knowledge exist?

A: Scientific knowledge was there and excellent.

Question: The subject of wars is a different subject, at least from our follow-up, even if it is simple, that there are some countries that have suffered from wars and had a great need for forensic medicine to identify the bodies and even to identify the causes of murder, which entered the field of international courts and war crimes, this subject needs committees, doctors and studies (specialized), how did this specialized knowledge of this type of circumstance work?

A: Hopefully the war will be over, as possible this year or next year at the latest, and thank God things are almost settled, but there are repercussions and consequences of war that are the huge number of missing and disappeared. A qualitative and generous legislative decree was issued in 2014 to establish the General Authority for Forensic Medicine, and real life began in the centres that function as a body and entity in 2017 when forensic doctors were attached to the authority. We had developed a plan as a general forensic body to keep up with the war and to precede it. We sent doctors to Somalia, Pakistan and Cyprus, these countries have experienced wars and we have shared experiences with them, the method of detecting mass graves trained by our doctors, we have trained our doctors tremendously. Currently as a forensic medicine we are adding anthropology, and this is very great science, we know that the subject of DNA is a costly subject and takes time with the presence of this massive number of victims so we are developing sciences and knowledge that we can keep up with the war and precede it, as I told you, including anthropology and forensic dentistry which through it we can discover the identity of the victim through its teeth and through the study of bones, we can take almost complete information about the victim, before we reach the DNA stage, if we have to do a DNA test for sure the state is bound and committed to do so, but this is the last option because it is expensive and takes time.

Q: It also needs the cooperation of the relatives?

A: Of course, because we are taking a sample from the victim and a sample for comparison (from relatives), I will not say that we will do our best, we have gone beyond this, but we will certainly do more than our best.

Moderate Armed Oppositionist: A gift to all the martyrs of the Ahrar al-Sham Brigades in Idlib countryside, In the name of God, Most Merciful and Most Gracious; a number of Grad rockets are fired at the city of Slanfah by the Ansar al-Sham Brigades in conjunction with the (Ottoman Sultan) Murad I and Murad IV Brigades.

I met with a delegation from Human Rights, and the result of the report was a documentation of the massacres of the villages of Slanfah completely and at the beginning, and even I had spontaneously at the level of data, we were at the beginning of our work counting the numbers, all of which presented and the title of the report was (massacres of Slanfah – their blood is still here). I think this is the only organization that has visited for the massacres of Slanfah.

Q: The Human Rights Watch report chose this title?

A: It has been translated into more than one language such as English and French and the report has been circulated. I don’t have a copy of it now, but the report was very clear and there was an acknowledgement massacres committed.

In every forensic medical center we have documentation of all the deaths, natural and abnormal, whether caused by explosions or murders, all documented by date and all documented in pictures, with abnormal deaths we always accompany the CID and we do the photography and have numbers and names, there are investigation records to detect it is reliable. When I move to the crime scene, I am not alone, I move with a judicial disclosure panel composed of a judge, a forensic pathologist and a forensic clerk, and there are all lecturers in the bench, we have nothing undocumented.

Forensic medicine depends mainly on the human staff and the material possibilities, such as any branch of medicine, the material possibilities include various equipment and different devices. At the beginning of the war the situation was acceptable to good, when the war began the material and human personnel capabilities were drained, I told you that we were at the beginning of the war about 150 forensic doctors and now we are only 56 doctors, the facilities are mostly destroyed, there are doctors who emigrated and others killed and others kidnapped, yet the 56 doctors examined all these cases thoroughly and there was not a single case that came to us without examination and had an exact forensic medical report was written.

At first the forensic doctors suffered because there were many qualitative cases that we have not seen like it before, types of weapons we do not know what they are, at first, and then the forensic doctors practice and have sufficient experience and knowledge of how to deal with all cases, for example as one person I examined 13,800 bodies, examined more than 60,000 or 70,000 injury, and the colleagues certainly did the same. I told you the work of the coroner generally exposes him to health, psychological and physical problems and added to them security problems in the war. and added to them security problems in the war. The coroner always suffers but is always required to continue working, I say that 56 forensic doctors are very few but we have done our duty and always try to take a step forward, and we have been fully equipped for when Idlib and Raqqa are liberated to deal with the remains that exist. We have prepared the necessary teams and equipment.

The whole of Syria is suffering from the sanctions on (lab) material, imagine there are sanctions on importing DNA lab testing kits, what humanity is the West is preaching? These DNA testing kits are only used to identify corpses, what does it have to do with politics?

They’re imposing on a blockade on us even in this matter.

Q: If this report is presented anywhere in the world medically and scientifically, for example, the method of examination, the method of documentation and scientific explanation, does the report meet the standards wherever it is presented in the world will it be recognized?

A: Of course, anything documented in detail such as injury, photographs, dates and identity of the person meets international standards.

Q: Was forensics able during these years because it was not prepared at the beginning of the war for so much work that it faced, the number of victims or the types of the killing, did it have enough experience today? Was there a follow-up such as training abroad or conferences to keep up with or benefit from the experiences of countries that unfortunately had wars?

A: We have periodic courses, more than one course a year in cooperation with the International Red Cross under the supervision of the General Authority for Forensic Medicine, and we have the problem that the number of forensic doctors in Syria is very small not exceeding 55 doctors, in all of Latakia province we have 5 doctors, 3 of them in Latakia area and 2 in Jableh, we cover the areas of Qardaha and Haffeh, the number is very little.

My ambition is to make a file for all the missing under the supervision of the General Authority for Forensic Medicine, to have data on nation level, not only to depend on cross-examining data, it’s a costly project, it will take time but let’s start it.

Q: In mass graves, what prevents the gunmen from burying soldiers with civilians, how will they be separated here?

A: What is preventing them from burying their dead with our martyrs? Don’t make a difference with them. We’re very suffering from these things. Also, there are people who think that DNA is a magical solution, once you examine the DNA the name appears, no, the subject is too meticulous. I have examined many mass graves, the bodies and the remains piled up on top of each other, when they kill them, they stack them on top of each other, and the remains are mixed.

We’re strengthening Anthropology and we take a step forward so that we can distinguish and sort out the remains of each victim from the other. This topic is very important, thorny and sensitive.

Q: And this is also about the method of exhuming?

A: Of course, if the exhumation is not proper, we will never reach results.

I feel that there are many files in Syria the time has come to talk about so that we can reconcile with ourselves and to know that we were victims of manipulation by others, including files such as Hamza al-Khatib file, you know, you know, or Zainab al-Husni or the file of the electrician in the area of al-Hirak, there are files that played a fundamental and sensitive role in which positions have been built on them, now the truth about them came to light.

I believe that forensics can be a witness and reader of the past through its experience, because I am not a political analyst, as I told you, but I am a reader of what has occured, so when I study the body and examine it I can analyze what happened at the moments of death.

Q: Does this affect our present and our future?

A: Exactly.

If the focus since the beginning of the war was on forensic medicine, its explanation of the facts, its detailing of what is happening and its refutation of tendentious narratives, could have solved many things, and many martyrs and many victims we did not need to examine.

We would have been able to lessen a large number of victims and martyrs only if we had been listened to, if there were at that time those who would listen. Unfortunately, I repeat, at the beginning of the war, there was a group that refused to listen, which did not want to be convinced. I will tell you a story when we were in Aleppo I had a colleague, a doctor who emigrated later, I was explaining to him that there are bodies of dead strangers, including Arabs and foreigners, and he told me that this thing is impossible, after a while and we were together I got a call about a body of a dead Turk at the police headquarters, a lawyer who was defending al-Qaeda and was famous, killed, and I was asked to examine him and take DNA samples, so I asked this doctor to accompany me so that I could prove to him accurately and everything will be in front of him, he told me that even if I saw, I would not believe it. At that time there were people who refused to believe.

End of the English translation transcript.

SYRIA AND TURKEY RAMP UP PREPARATIONS FOR NEW MILITARY CONFRONTATION

SOUTH FRONT

The Syrian Army and Iranian-backed militias deployed a new batch of reinforcements to the frontline in southern Idlib and western Aleppo. According to local sources, fresh troops reinforced by armoured vehicles and battle tanks were placed near Saraqib, Kafranbel, and Urma as-Sughra. These areas were the hottest points of the conflict between Syrian troops and Turkish-led forces during the previous round of escalations in Greater Idlib. Turkey and its proxies are also preparing for a new round of confrontations.

During the past week, at least four Turkish military convoys, with battle tanks and even MIM-23 Hawk medium-range air-defense systems, entered Idlib, allegedly to secure the ceasefire regime and contain the terrorist threat. How Turkish troops are planning to use air defense systems against al-Qaeda terrorists that do not have aircraft remains a mystery.

At the same time, sources close to Idlib militants announced that Ankara is forming five new units consisting of its own troops, members of the National Front for Liberation and the Syrian National Army. Both these militant groups are funded and trained by Turkey. The newly formed units will be led by Turkish officers and allegedly include 9,000 Syrian militants and a similar number of Turkish troops. Pro-Turkish sources speculate that this force will be tasked with securing the M4 highway in southern Idlib and clearing the area of radical groups like Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. After this, a security zone will be established and joint Turkish-Russian patrols will be launched in the area as it was agreed to by Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The problem with this theory is that the Turkish-backed groups, which should supposedly be involved in this operation are allied with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other al-Qaeda-linked organizations. So, they will have little motivation to confront them shifting the burden of fighting to Turkish troops.

According to pro-government sources, the Turkish motivation is different. They note that Ankara is very unsatisfied with the performance of their proxies during the recent battle against the Syrian Army. So, it opted to make a new attempt to create elite units that should deliver a devastating blow to the brutal Assad regime that is cowardly resisting the occupation of Syrian territory by Turkey.

Turkish-backed forces also increased their activity in Syria’s northeast. On March 29, the 20th Division of the so-called Syrian National Army attacked positions of Kurdish militias near the village of Sayda. Pro-Turkish sources claimed that a truck equipped with a 23mm machine gun belonging to Kurdish forces was destroyed and that many fighters were killed. Turkish proxies still cherish radiant hopes to capture the nearby town of Ayn Issa thus seizing control of the crossroad of the M4 highway and the Tall Abyad-Raqqah road.

The US-led coalition continues evacuation of smaller bases and regrouping of its forces in Iraq. After the withdrawal of coalition troops from al-Qaim and al-Qayyarah, they left from the Kirkuk K1 base. Means and forces from these facilities will be redeployed to other US bases in the country, mainly Camp Taji. There are no signs of any kind of US troop withdrawal from the country despite the demands from the Baghdad government. To the contrary, the Pentagon recently announced that it was working to deploy Patriot air defense systems to protect US troops in Iraq from missile attacks.

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Mighty “Moderate Rebels” Pressure Turkish Army In Idlib. US-led Coalition Is Crumbling

South Front

The notorious “moderate rebels” have blown up a bridge on the M4 highway in southern Idlib as part of their effort to sabotage the creation of a security zone in the area. The Kafr bridge is located near the town of Jisr al-Shughr, near positions of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the Turkistan Islamic Party, both of which are linked to al-Qaeda. Surprisingly, pro-opposition sources publicly admit that the bridge was destroyed to hinder Russian-Turkish plans to conduct joint patrols along the M4. After previous acts of sabotage against the deal, supporters of the Idlib “moderates” opted to blame “Russian barbarians”, “sectarian Iranian militias” or the “puppet Assad regime”. But such claims did not hold water because the rough actions of the Idlib militants were too obvious.

Over the past two weeks, Turkish troops have conducted at least 8 patrols on their own along the M4 highway and participated in 2 joint patrols with Russian Military Police west of Saraqib. However, the presence of the Turkish Army in the area of the supposed security zone did not stop supporters of Idlib armed groups from building barriers with large mounds of earth, blowing up bridges, destroying improvised Turkish road checkpoints and even staging IED attacks on Turkish military columns. The constant threat of terrorist attacks will clearly remain a sad reality of modern Idlib for as long as al-Qaeda-linked groups exist there.

On March 25, a Turkish soldier, Umit Udul, shot himself dead near the town of Ras al-Ayn in northeastern Syria. Kurdish sources claim that he did it as an act of protest against the actions of the Turkish Army in Syria. However, these claims remain unconfirmed. The security situation in the Turkish-controlled part of Syria’s northeast has been deteriorating for months. So, the incident may have been a result of local tensions.

Two Turkish soldiers were killed by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, in the area of the Turkish anti-PKK operation “Claw”. The Turkish Defense Ministry confirmed the casualties saying that 8 PKK members were “neutralized” in response to the attack.

Rocket strikes continue hitting US-linked facilities across Iraq. Early on March 26, several rockets were launched at the area of the US embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone. A day earlier, on March 25, unidentified forces shelled Camp Taji, the biggest military base hosting US troops in the country. Regular rocket attacks already forced the US military to evacuate several smaller bases, including the key fortified facility near the Syrian border – al-Qaim. This was done under the pretext of “successes” against ISIS and COVID-19-related issues.

Meanwhile, the US-led coalition itself is collapsing. On March 25, Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf, a spokesman for the Commander in Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces, announced that French troops had withdrawn from Iraqi territory.

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NUKES, BUGS, AND GAS IN HYBRID WARS: NUCLEAR, BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL PROTECTION TROOPS OF RUSSA

South Front

This video was originally released by SouthFront in August 2016. In the coming weeks, SouthFront is going to release a series of exclusive videos covering various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. These videos will provide a closer look at means, measures and structures employed by nations to combat the outbreak.

The recent spate of reports that Russian Radio-Chemical Defense (RKhB) Troops  have been deployed to the Yamal Peninsula in order to combat an anthrax breakout among the local fauna brought attention to a relatively unknown and even unglamorous branch of the Russian Armed Forces which is tasked with protecting own forces, infrastructure, and civilian population from the effects of weapons of mass destruction. With a history dating back to Russian Imperial Army’s independent chemical companies of World War I, and extensive service during the Great Patriotic War as smoke-laying and flame-throwing troops, the best known example of RKhB Troops in action is the operation to put out the fire at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant which demonstrated their technical prowess and self-sacrificial dedication to their life-saving mission.

Even though the Cold War, and the prospect of widespread use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, have receded in the public’s mind, having been replaced by terrorism as the most immediate security threat, the recent deterioration of the international situation means that we are likely to see increased usage of these weapons in the coming decades.

The growth in the importance of non-state actors as US and NATO proxy warriors in Libya, Syria, and other parts of the world also have meant that such actors, confident in their Western patronage, may use prohibited weapons with legal impunity. We have seen such use on several occasions in Syria, with “moderate rebels” using nerve agents shipped from the post-Gaddafi Libya and possibly even Saudi Arabia, and more recently resorting to chlorine cylinders. The use of a so-called “dirty bomb”, or a radioactivity dispersal device, is an ever-present threat lurking in the minds of security planners around the world, including Russia. Finally, given the importance of Russia’s agriculture as a pillar of its economy and a component of its national security strategy, the use of pathogens targeting crops and livestock is also a plausible threat that must be countered. While Russian forces or civilians have not yet been explicitly targeted by such weapons, it is a virtual certainty that they will be used if the West’s so far unsuccessful “hybrid war” against Russia continues. With the West growing increasingly desperate to compel Russia to abandon its sovereignty, and given its until recently unthinkable policies such as arming radical Islamists and neo-Nazis, providing them with weapons of mass destruction for use against Russia cannot be ruled out either.

For that reason, RKhB Troops have also been the beneficiaries of the recent Russian military modernization efforts, and have undergone an expansion following the drastic post-Soviet cutbacks. The core of today’s RKhB Troops consists of four RKhB brigades, stationed one apiece in each of the four military districts. The post-2008 financial crisis rise in international threat levels has prompted an expansion by reactivating 10 RKhB regiments, with each army headquarters receiving a regiment. In addition to conducting radiological, chemical, and biological reconnaissance and decontamination, RKhB Troops retain the traditional roles of smoke-laying and flame-throwing, which means their armament even includes the TOS-1 Solntsepyok rocket self-propelled flamethrowing vehicles that have proven themselves in Syria and Iraq against Islamist militants.

Historically the best equipped chemical troops in the world, Russian RKhB Troops are continuing that tradition to this day, with the introduction of the Nerkhta gas-proof suits and PMK-3 protective masks and the extensive provision of advanced armored reconnaissance vehicles, including the BTR-80-based RKhM-6 and MTLB-based RKhM-5. Recent large-scale military exercises have also featured the employment of RKhB units and troop operations under the conditions of simulated contamination.

Like other recent Russian military preparations, these efforts are intended with deterrence in mind.  Having potent defensive capabilities may be sufficient to dissuade would-be attackers from using such weapons in the first place. However, should deterrence fail, RKhB Troops stand ready to perform their missions.

The War of Terror on Syria Through Forensic Medicine – GRAPHIC

March 23, 2020 Arabi Souri

The War of Terror on Syria through Forensic Medicine

This is Part 1 of a documentary series by investigative reporter Ugarit Dandash, the documentary is part of Ms. Dandash’s From the Ground documentary series where she reports from Syria the horrors the Syrian people lived inflicted on them by the USA and all its cronies, lackeys, and stooges combined efforts over the past 9 years.

From the Ground – The Syrian War through the Eyes of Forensic Medicine was made exclusively for the Lebanese Al Mayadeen news station in Arabic. It was aired on Thursday night 19 March 2020.

All countries which supported the ‘freedom fighters’, ‘armed opposition’, ‘moderate rebels’, call them whatever Orwellian name that suits you, are an accomplice in each crime committed against the Syrian people, needless to say, that each taxpayer and each citizen of those countries has much blood on their hands especially those who keep quiet hiding behind the ‘democracy elections’ delusion while their governments kill in their names, murder using their money, destroy families and hide behind the ‘democracy’ slogan, and not being held by those citizens for the crimes they committed all over the world. If you didn’t know for over 9 years what your government did in Syria, this will leave you with no excuse.

The video file size is beyond the capacity of our site, our YouTube channel was long deleted by YouTube, so we had to split it into two parts embedded below, followed by the transcript in English of the full video for history. Please excuse any typos, it was definitely unintentional.

Part 1 of 2, Episode 1:

Part 2 of 2, Episode 1:

The full video is also available on BitChute.

English translation transcript:

The War in the Eyes of Forensic Medicine – 1

Report by Ugarit Dandash

During the years of the war in Syria, forensics carried out its traditional role which people know and carried out an unconventional role handling the war-related cases which the forensic medicine dealt with during the wartime.

The forensic medicine has presented much, within a short period of time, we inspected 230407 cases of martyrs and injured, despite the low number of forensic doctors in the Syrian Arab Republic.

Forensic Medicine, like all other sectors, suffered bleeding, we had martyrs among the doctors and forensic employees, in addition to the immigration of a number of the forensic doctors, and despite that the forensic medicine carried out its role completely, work more like a miracle and this is what the viewers will notice when they watch this episode.

It managed to reveal the facts, reveal the right and justice, there’s a misconception among some who are uninformed that the forensic doctor only inspects the body and writes the report then their role ends, no, there are rights, legal, humanitarian, and moral consequences based on the report of the forensic doctor. The matter is of high sensitivity and importance. There are many news flashes that appear on the screen but many people do not read what’s beyond it and do not read its hidden nature, they do not know that forensic medicine was the main source of information for this news. Forensic Medicine managed to reveal the truth and push away the exiting ambiguity, this forensic medicine carried out a great role during the wartime.

Like all people on the streets we used to receive the echo of the events that there were protesters and they were shot at by the authorities, the army men were shooting them, or they were shot from a close distance, but as professionals dealing with bodies, the body was giving us indications of what was actually going on.

We were not in the picture of the events we were always coming after, at the beginning of the crisis when bodies were reaching us in 2011 we noticed that the gunshots were coming from long distances and from high directions, meaning that there was a sniper in a building somewhere about 50 or 60 meters away and on the 4th or 5th floor of a building, as in one of the bodies, it was definitely not shot from a close distance.

In the second stage when there were strict orders for riot policemen not to carry their weapons, I remember that in one Friday I wrote 125 reports for members of the riot policemen beaten with sticks and stones, and after a while we started getting law enforcement members shot in addition to some civilians, we were saying if those law enforcement members were doing the shooting then who shot them? They started telling that their colleagues were shooting them because they refused to shoot!

In the next stage we started noting the use of Pump-Action shotguns, it’s a type of hunting rifles. I believe there is no regular army that carries this type of rifle. Some might ask why Pump-Action rifles? This rifle doesn’t need a professional to use it, once fired from the shot comes out with a conical diameter and hits a number of people, we also noticed several bodies with gunshot marks from the hunting rifles and also we noticed it was struck by torturing tools like large stones, knives, or machetes. We were seeing gunshot marks on the body and next to it marks indicating the use of sharp tools.

There are always vital signs accompanying the wound that occurs only when the person is alive, When a person is injured while they are alive, the wound bleeds, clotting factors act, and reactions occur in the body, such as a crunch and inflammation, while we don’t see all these symptoms when the deceased person is injured, the knife stab is like a stab in a doll, or a stab in a sponge. the vital signs of relapse do not appear, and the blood is a fluid that does not coagulate; for us, these things are simple and we can tell that these wounds were inflicted on the person after death, because we started seeing the abuse and mutilation of corpses.

Each stage lasted about two weeks, then after a month and a half between the end of April and the beginning of May 2011 kidnapping and torture stage started. A body would arrive at the morgue, it would be handcuffed or blindfolded, and there would be other marks of a gunshot or slaughter or killing or mutilation.

After about 1.5 months or two months the kidnapping, torture and killing stage started. Even the kidnapping was gradual, at first the victim would be covered with his own cloth and strangled with what he was wearing, then we started seeing bodies tied up by iron skewers then by plastic handcuffs, you’d notice that there’s more planning and more organizing in this thing.

Forensic medicine was able to block all the doors in their faces in many of the situations.

Question: There was always doubting in any reports and whatever the Syrian state was declaring, and the forensic medicine is a state institute, was there confidence in the forensic medicine among international organizations like when dealing with the fact-finding missions (which came to Syria), was there any challenge in the forensics reports or the scientific indications were sufficient to silence any challenge?

Answer: I attended international committees, let’s take the chemical subject for instance, they were asking me questions like when did you go from Al-Razi Hospital to the University Hospital? How long did the trip take when there was traffic jam and when there was no traffic jam? The details were to this extent in this matter. Despite that, and because we were confident in our information and in our science, thanks to God, and because we were not distorting the truth, we were able to convince them with the existing facts. Thanks to God we are very precise, and I was surprised when they would ask me questions like how long it takes between Al Razi Hospital and the University Hospital when there was traffic and when there wasn’t…

Question: Are we talking now about the use of chemical weapons in Khan Al Asal in 2013?

Answer: No, we are talking about the attacks that followed. They were asking questions like: why did you inspect all the injured? Why did you inspect the soldier victims? What do they have to do with this? We told them that at first we inspect all cases and then we segregate them, but at first all cases have to be inspected, they were focusing on such type of questions, like what did you smell when you arrive at the scene? Of course, they had their own specialist technicians, but thankfully, they were never able to (question our reports). Also, in Jisr Shoghour, for instance, they had a large number of forensic doctors and forensic technicians who tried to refute the official narrative which was the truthful narrative, like: the focus was on the time of death because there was a difference in that between two groups of martyrs, we managed to prove to them by scientific evidence that the case was not…

Question: Let’s stop at Jisr Shoghour, from the beginning, so we can remind of what happened. We are talking about two incidences in Jisr Shoghour, the famous incident and there was a previous one you talked about, let’s start from the one that happened first, how long was it before the massacre and what happened in Jisr Shoghour, especially that all talks that time that protests were peaceful?

Answer: The magnitude of what happened in Jisr Shoghour, its ugliness, makes people forget what happened before it. On 5 June 2011, a security force along with riot police went to support the besieged soldiers in the Jisr Shoghour main post. The group was 105 servicemen in total, all of them martyred. Let me stop here at an area called Urum al-Joz, this has to be highlighted. On 5 June 2011, the crisis was in its early days and as they were claiming it was ‘peaceful’, at that time I was heading the forensic medicine office in Idlib province. The forensic medicine examined and found qualitative injuries, severe ones, professional in sniping, of course, none of the martyrs didn’t get to their weapons, ever, they were killed while on the buses. At the time one of the judges asked me, he was martyred afterward by Nusra Front, he asked me, what is the need for autopsy in such a situation? We have dozens of martyrs in the lands we are examining, so I answer that autopsy for the sake of history.

I’m not a politician but a science man and I read the circumstances, the crisis didn’t come suddenly and enter Syria, there were shockwaves all over the Arab world, we were watching and seeing, and we were seeing unrelated things, in addition that one of the main tasks of forensics is to document because the forensic medicine aims for rights to be restored and justice to prevail, we have to document in order for every person to get their rights, but when documenting we were discovering how much we were under an untruthful media narrative, and I’m trying to be as much as unbiased with my words here, but there was media disinformation.

As per my segregation of the cases which I consider was in the fifth stage, as in the forth stage there were gunshots among the civilian victims but there were also gunshots among the armed men and there were also gunshots among the army soldiers because clashes happened and we couldn’t know what was going on, but the following stage which was the fifth and was around July (2011), it was the stage of explosions, the massacres stage started, we would receive a case of a bus would that was coming from a village and the bus was blown up, they were entering a house of a family and then kill and liquidate all its members, this was the most dangerous stage because it caused a state of panic, there were displacing operations for entire families from certain areas and an attempt to create small cantons so they can control it, this stage was in July 2011.

He asked me: What do you mean by autopsy for history? I told him you’ll know what I mean by autopsy for history when I finish the examination. With the autopsy of the bodies of 3 martyrs, we demonstrated that the gunshot used is advanced gunfire using a modern sniper, all the martyrs were sniped from long distances, which means, the situation is very serious, there are sophisticated quality weapons and there are trained snipers, this is not amateurs using guns for the first time, here comes the role of forensics.

Question: Let’s talk about the incident that you told me about, which is the martyred soldier…

Answer: O One of the martyrs I examined his body, I was surprised that the gunshot was from a distance of hundreds of meters. could be 200 or 300 meters or more, we could not determine its extent, but it is very far, you find that the gunshot penetrated the helmet that was worn by the martyr, then went through the frontal bone, then the brain material, then the temporal bone, and you know what the temporal bone means, then the occipital bone and then the helmet. It was a strange thing, I was surprised at that time as forensic medicine that there was a weapon of this quality, the subject was very dangerous, a bullet-like this is very sophisticated, and a qualitative weapon like this is used by a very professional sniper.

Question: In this case, there was no forensic role that could at least warn or influence subsequent events?

Answer: We warned at the time, and I warned in a number of meetings, I was in Idlib, then in Aleppo, then the Director-General of Forensic Medicine in the Syrian Arab Republic, I always seek what is called preventive forensic medicine, which we warn of about aspects that pose a threat to society and the security of society, how about this topic, it poses a danger to the whole society, we warned in a number of meetings that there are advanced qualitative weapons that are used in Syria, when you talk about June 5, 2011, at the beginning of the events, they had more advanced weapons than the army, unfortunately, this is the fact, we, as forensics, always seek to show the community that there are dangerous matters that must be taken care of, as we give this information we give it to beware, because there must be cautious and we know how to deal with what is coming, what is coming I told them will be very dangerous, and events have proven this.

Question: This thing happened before the famous Jisr Al-Shughour massacre?

Answer: We went to Jisr Al-Shughour, and of course there was a huge media hype. The opposition and the Western media, even including the Western ambassadors present, there was still official dealings with the government, and there were Arab, foreign and Gulf (GCC) media, many Gulf media, and the Gulf ambassadors at that time, they tried in any way and means to refute and challenge the true official narration, we as forensic medicine went (there), I was with them, we found 90 bodies and remained a number of bodies are missing, we examined them and stopped at a number of points, first, the abuse that occurred after death and the torture that occurred during life was something very strange in the Syrian society that foretells a disaster. One of the martyrs I examined was longitudinally divided into two halves, one of the martyrs was buried alive, we proved as forensic medicine that he was buried while he was alive, then the Western media and ambassadors came to find any loophole they believed to exist in the forensic reports or the official version.

Question: Like what?

Answer: There were two groups of martyrs, a group of martyrs was present in the main building, which is the security detachment, and a group of martyrs was in the post office. After those who were in the post office were killed, their bodies were thrown in the Orontes River, the second group of martyrs, knowing that field executions took place within a short period, within an hour or two, they tried to say that this group was killed at a different period from the group of the main detachment, we did a scientific analysis for them and explained to them the subject of decay, when (the body) inside the water how (decay) slows down due to lack of oxygen and the presence of moisture and when we get the body out of the water how the decaying accelerates tremendously and the phenomenon of the so-called black head appears, where the head of the body appears blackened, that is why we call this phenomenon in forensics is called the Black Head, I explained this to them carefully, I told them that if the body is not examined immediately after being extracted from the water it gives an enormous septic appearance, if the forensics doctor is not very accurate it is impossible to distinguish the time of sepsis. We explained it to them fully.

Question: Was this explanation given directly to…?

Answer: Directly to the media and the ambassadors present. Even a reporter for a station transmits my explanation of the topic and says that, according to what this doctor says, the official version seems authentic, so the media station changes the reporter.

Question: Was it a Gulf (GCC) station?

Answer: It was a Gulf station. Imagine, after I confronted them with science, thank God, they could not provide any response, the narrative became true because we speak science and we have no relationship with politics.

Question: The international committees that came specifically for the Jisr al-Shughur incident, did it interfere, or tried to know anything at that point?

Answer: This issue was the largest massacre that took place in the history of modern Syria, a huge number of martyrs, a way of killing gruesome, abuse of corpses, and the topic that deserved to be highlighted. When forensic medicine explained and clarified the matter, they did not follow up on this issue, why? Because they knew that the topic condemned the other team. Had the forensics failed at that time, they would have formed 100 committees, but when forensic medicine could explain exactly how the issue happened, they had no choice but to turn the page, they had no choice.

After the break:

I asked the executive authorities to provide us with a vegetable cooling truck. They sent me a 16-meter vegetable cooling truck to preserve the bodies in, we were running the truck on diesel because there was no electricity.

Manifestations that appear on a corpse after decaying may confuse by a non-forensic specialist, particularly with the subject of bruising.

Part Two:

When the Hamzah al-Khatib incident occurred, the forensic doctor explained, but there was no echo of what he said, they spoke of bruises while it was decaying.

The story of Hamza Al-Khatib is impressive: he read decaying but said it was bruises. The testes are swollen due to decaying, and the penis was no longer visible, so they said that the penis was cut.

Forensic medicine and you will see the photos soon, showing that the cause of death is a gunshot, the entry nozzles are clear and the exit nozzles are clear.

Indeed, he was shot because they were defending the housing compound of the (officers). The photos show you three gunshot entries and the penis is intact, nothing wrong with it.

We read the situation from the corpses that come to us.

The future of our lives from corpses?

Exactly, when you see at the beginning of events this is kind of torture on the corpses, you see the killing methods that were used, you realize that what’s coming is very dangerous.

– Start with ‘in the name of God’..

– Terrorist activist: In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Another martyr of freedom from the city of Giza in the governorate of Daraa, whose name is Hamza Ali Al-Khatib, age 13. He went out on the Friday of Anger to lift the siege on the people of Daraa. He was arrested at Sidon Housings (compound) and tortured in the most heinous way, looking at the traces of torture.

When the incident of Hamzah Al-Khatib happened, people were refusing to listen, unfortunately, I say that with the utmost frankness. People were refusing to listen to any science or whatever. The people were mobilized (by media), forensic medicine at the time spoke, but there was no echo of what it said, there was doubting the narration presented by forensic medicine which is the true narrative, the people now must listen and must know. They said about the presence of bruises while they were manifestations of sepsis, if time permits, we will display the pictures and explain a scientific explanation on this topic.

Terrorist Activist: This is a bullet in the right arm, which penetrated his arm from this side and exited from here and entered his chest, a shot in his abdomen, and another shot on the left side symmetrically with the right side exited from the outside side and entered from the inner side to his chest again.

Dr. Bassam Al-Muhammad, Head of the Forensic Medicine Center in Homs: The story of Hamza Al-Khatib is impressive: he read decaying but said it was bruises. The testes are swollen due to decaying, and the penis shrank and was no longer visible, so they said that the penis was cut, because there are pre-existing mentalities and their doctor did not have good prospects. You also remember the story of The Hirak, but the doctor there was a professional, in the story of The Hirak was electrocuted and he altered it.

Fortunately, we have the pictures from the start in the story of Hamzah Al-Khatib, and everything is clear. His body had nothing, no bruise, no beating, 3 gunshots, no one denied that he was shot because they were defending the housing compound. The photos show 3 gunshots and the penis is intact. It means that the facts were then altered.

Terrorist activist: and a shot at the top in his chest, and look at the bruises in his face with the broken neck, and look at the bruises on his right leg.

At the beginning of the war, people did not want to hear, or a group of people refused to listen at all, did not want to listen to the voice of truth, the voice of justice, wanted to walk behind what you expected or wanted. The western media had a very big role, and the Arab and Gulf media in particular, had a very big role in mobilizing and inciting people.

What did forensics do? initially, it was said that Hamzah Al-Khatib’s body had been mutilated, tortured, even severed its male penis. Forensic medicine, as you will see with pictures a little later it turns out that the cause of death was gunshots, the entry holes are clear and opposite the exit holes. It shows there was no torture on his body, even the subject of the cutting of the penis, people suspected what they thought was bruising on his body, this was decaying. Decaying, the degradation that took place gives a bruising-like appearance and any specialist in the field of forensic medicine and criminal science can distinguish that, the subject isn’t a debate, the case is scientifically clear. As for age, they said gave an age and forensic medicine estimated another age. The role of forensic medicine was very crucial in this case.

Terrorist activist: They did not stop with this amount of torture, but cut off his penis, then shot him, look at him without penis, they cut off his penis. Date May 25, 2011, on Wednesday.

Question: In the matter of determining age in the case of Hamza Al-Khatib, and in general, how is it done?

Answer: There are several criteria that forensic medicine uses through the study of orthopedics, radiographs in particular for the left hand wrist, the examination of teeth, and we have included this topic as a very important study: forensic dentistry. Under 21 years old, I can say that (forensic medicine) gives very credible and reliable results, after the age of 21, the margin of suspicion becomes between 6 months to a year.

Question: It was said that Hamza Al-Khatib was 13 years old?

Answer: Forensics has proved he was three years older than this.

Question: In the case of a corpse, the images that spread about inflation that the corpse is swollen …?

Answer: This is a natural process and natural development of the septic state that occurs. What happened is that after the corpse was kept in Tishreen Military Hospital for a period of about 20 days, it was transferred to the National Daraa Hospital, of course, the cooling was not appropriate, for that decay increased and accelerated.

Manifestations that appear on the body at the time of sepsis may be suspected by a non-specialist, particularly with the subject of bruising. Forensic medicine spoke and explained it fully. You will see the pictures when the body arrived. There was no mutilation or torture of the deceased, exactly. Here, the forensic role was decisive and essential, but as I told you at that time the problem was that people refused to listen, in short.

Dr. Bassam Al-Muhammad, Head of the Forensic Medicine Center in Homs: I do not hide from you that a large number of forensic doctors were threatened, another section sat at home, a number of them were afraid, and a number that stopped appearing on the media, and even I was one of these, this is first, secondly I was one those who spoke on some shows about media misinformation, but we were stifled by the media and no one heard us. It was in vain. We spoke and tried to speak more, but we became in our media outlets talking to each other. We are the people convinced that there is a conspiracy against the country. That is why our role was weak.

Question: From the Arab committees that came, and they came to Homs in particular, did they not meet you? Didn’t try to contact you?

Dr. Bassam Al-Muhammad, Head of the Forensic Medicine Center in Homs: They met us and I think that Al-Dabi, the head of the delegation, gave positive indications because he came to us and we presented him with the facts, and the period during which Al-Dabi visited us was the car bomb that exploded at the Military Medical Services Est. on the street of Al-Jajah Restaurant and Khaled Bin Al-Waleed School and we see the files, there was a car that exploded, they brought us the car to the Forensic Medicine, and it is well documented, they brought the car thinking it was for a suicide bomber, but when we discovered the corpse at the morgue we discovered that there were circular bruises on the hand that was found and on the feet, and we saw the electronic board in his viscera, and there were forceps placed on the penis for torture by blocking urine to produce psychological pressure, this is known as a method of torture that is cut urine by attaching the urethra or placing forceps.

We found that this person previously had a previous traffic accident and as a result of the fixative device placed in the vertebrae and his story, we were able to identify that this person was kidnapped 3 days ago and he is a known person. This person was kidnapped and after a while he was put in the car. The car was booby-trapped and directed towards the headquarters of the Military and Police Medical Services in that area. It seems that when this person came out knowing that he was booby-trapped, thought about where to go and decided to go to the security forces, he will not go to his family to save him, they were meanwhile planning to detonate the car remotely, and during that time the existing witness also spoke and then we analyzed what happened: When the car arrived at the military service building, the guard came to see the car because nobody was going in that street, at the moment the soldier came to him, the person returned the car to the back and after he returned about 20 meters, the car exploded, they felt that he was retreating and this person knew that he will be detonated and he didn’t want to harm the soldier so he drove backward, the material damage was little, he was the only person killed.

At that time we wanted to explain openly to the media what happened, and then it was decided after the recording of the episode that we might teach people this way so we do not want it to be repeated that a person is kidnapped and booby-trapped and tied to the car and sent. So that it does not get repeated after the episode was recorded the decision was made not to be shown to the media and I showed it to al-Dabbi in those days, he asked me for documents, I told him that I need official permission to give it to you…

Question: Dabbi’s report was unexpectedly positive…

Dr. Bassam Al-Muhammad, head of the Forensic Medicine Center in Homs: His report was positive because I took him down to the forensic morgue and showed him the bodies during that period, and I have the pictures, how a person was killed and only the meat was removed from his face and the top of his chest with the knife after death. We showed him pictures that I tell you about how he was tied, how he was covering his eyes, how he was slaughtered. Then they used to master slaughtering, we used to see slaughtering from the front, and then we see slaughtering taking place from the back…

Question: What is the difference?

Answer: The difference between them is that those who are slaughtered from the front die quickly, while those who are slaughtered from the back remain half an hour until they die because they are bleeding slowly … We started thinking why? We got the idea because some people have a habit that they want the blood of the carcass to be kept inside. Some people slaughter the carcass, the sheep or the like, they slaughter them from the back and in this way the bleeding is slow and the blood remains inside the carcass – the animal, and this is used as a method of cheating sometimes to increase the weight. The aim was torture. We used to see the victims slaughtered and then we saw that the hair of his forehead was shaved or his eyebrows had been shaved, why? Because the person who slaughters him tortures him, shaves his hair and shaves his eyebrows, and then he slays him. All these aspects, including beheadings…

Question: In what way are heads cut with a sword or slaughtered?

Answer: No, with the knife, it is clear that it was with the knife and not with the sword, technically you need a very professional person to be able to cut off the head with one stroke, but when using the knife he needs to insert it between the vertebrae.

The method of slaughtering was with knives, not with a single stroke. We know this from the multiple wound lines on the neck.

Dr. Zahir Hajo, Director of the General Authority of Forensic Medicine in Syria: The era that spanned from March 2011 until March 2012 when the army entered Idlib, one of the most dangerous episodes that passed in the history of Idlib as a province and a city. There was a lot of kidnapping after the Jisr al-Shughur for all the civilians who were supporting the state. Every day we found the body of a person who had been field-executed after being tortured.

I remember from the unique cases that I saw a civilian accused of supporting the state, all the traces of torture studied in the forensic books that forensics faces and which we study in books and those that do not exist in the books are present on it exist, huge barbaric torture, I am surprised by his story, which can explain to you what this country went through, his wife to ensure that they will execute him, “guarantee that they will execute him” she paid a million Lira and sold everything she owned so they will stop torturing him. He suggested to his wife that they would release him when the ransom was paid, he agreed with them where he asked them, in order to get rid of torture, that they should execute him, kill him, they said that they would not execute him for free, until his wife paid the money they executed him and rid him of torture.

We used to examine all of these things as forensic medicine.

Question: His wife paid money to kill him to rid him of torture?

Answer: It could have been expected that they would release him, knowing that he agreed with him that he would die and end. This period was one of the most dangerous periods in Idlib’s history, and there was a tremendous presence of gunmen in the outskirts carrying out kidnappings and assassinations, at which time the Attorney General in Idlib was assassinated, Mr. Nidal Ghazal Allah, have mercy on him.

Terrorist Activists: These are the Shabbiha forces coming to Jisr al-Shughour from Idlib, June 5, 2011. Shabiha coming from Idlib. focus…

Dr. Bassam Al-Muhammad: Of course, it reached its peak in the tenth month of 2011. I think we have reached a high point in the matter of kidnapping and killing in this way.

Question: What was the effect of that if we wanted to talk about people, for example, when they inspect the bodies and you wanted to hand them over to their families?

Dr. Bassam Al-Muhammad: I understood your question. The problem reflected on us as a forensic medicine when the relatives come to collect the bodies, whether armed or martyrs, as a result of these kidnappings, the person who had lost a family member could not reach the National Hospital to identify the body and take it, and thus we faced accumulation of corpses, and we have other problems. People did not receive the bodies, so I asked to make cold rooms and then the cold rooms were not enough, then we asked to bring vegetable transport vehicles, and here a rumor emerged that we are collecting the bodies, that the state is collecting the bodies to take them from a place For the last, it wasn’t, we didn’t have electricity at the National Hospital, so I asked the executive authorities that I needed a vegetables cold truck so they sent me a 16-meter-long vegetable refrigerator to put the bodies in. We run it on diesel because there is no electricity so that the bodies do not rot and people come to identify them, after a while we found that one refrigerator is not enough, the rumor emerged here that we are collecting the bodies and transporting them from one place to another, but the truth is as I told you.

Question: Did you encounter problems with the parents with their different passions who could have heard stories and could even have for them even the subject of the autopsy have many social and religious caveats sometimes, did you face this type of problem whether related to the cause of death and how to explain it to the family or about the autopsy?

Answer: We did not resort to autopsy much because the apparent disclosure was sufficient and we were not looking for a known criminal and it was clear that it was a murder, we were very sympathetic for the relatives that we developed the procedures at the Forensic Medicine, it wasn’t logical to let the relatives go in to see all the bodies to identify theirs, so we photographed the bodies and displayed on the computer. When he identifies his body, we bring it up to see it in real and recognizes it formally, because the number of bodies could have shocked the people, so we automated the process in order to deliver the bodies.

Unfortunately, the large numbers of dead bodies remained unknown because people were unable to reach us, and the areas were separated from each other in Homs. We tried, in some ways, to send CDs to identify the missing, within our capabilities. However, there remained unknown bodies that we, unfortunately, cannot identify.

Question: Was it buried later?

Answer: All the bodies in Homs were buried in a systematic way, according to an initiative that we, the forensic medicine, in cooperation with the Burial Office, the Religious Endowments Ministry, the security authorities, the governorate, and the civil defense. Everything was documented, we took pictures of the bodies, and the unknown bodies which weren’t recognizable from the pictures we took DNA samples from it, code was placed on the body and there was a unified code from the beginning of the crisis to the end of it. You know that we, as a health care sector, do not care about shrouds, nylon, and the like, they brought us the coffin, we wrapped the body, Civil Defense transports it, prayers were held for it under the supervision of Endowments and buried in cemeteries, 6 graveyards were approved in Homs because the numbers were large, bodies were buried orderly, each in a grave alone, and for this moment when someone reviews us to identify a dead body, we can take them to the grave of the body.

We made sure that there were no mass graves, even when Homs was liberated, we entered the old Homs district and searched the graveyards, whether the graves were collective, we took samples and were documented and buried in a regular way, and even the irregular graves that were in the gardens of homes, shelters or rooftops were re-dug out and sent to regular graves so that residents can return to live in their homes.

Question: Have you reached a stage, I do not want to call it a disability, but the numbers of dead bodies in it were beyond your capacity or your ability to absorb all this number, not only in terms of location but also the ability to analyze all the data?

Answer: What happened with us and as you know that laws are not established for crises, laws are put in place for a stable social life, the law was that for an (unidentified) body to be buried that it should be kept for a month and we must get the approval of the Public Prosecutor, we continued with this, but the large number of corpses continued to come and approached a thousand corpses with us, here as forensic doctors as a result of our reading of the reality and the summer began, so we submitted a request to the Attorney General l and explained to him the situation that continuing with this process would threaten an environmental disaster, he asked us to act according to the principles that allow the identification of corpses later in order to avoid environmental disasters, we were collecting the bodies, putting them in the (vegetable cold) trucks, but 4 freezers were sufficient for some time, then what?

We must bury them. Before the burial process, we performed photo documentation of all the dead bodies, as I told you, with number codes, wrap them in shrouds them and send them to the graves, because in that period in October we reached a peak in the numbers of unidentified bodies, we absorbed this number by collecting the bodies in refrigerators and vegetable transport vehicles that were used for this purpose, during which time we were told that we were collecting bodies but we were absorbing the shock. After this period, we started the natural process, to preserve the (body’s decency) you need to bury it according to the principles that preserve human dignity and at least preserve the religious duties that a person must perform towards the deceased person, and this thing was done at the governorate level in cooperation with all the competent authorities.

A person must read well in order to see what will happen to him in the future. We read from the corpses that reach us, we read the situation from the corpses that reach us.

Question: The future of our lives are from corpses?

Answer: Exactly, when we see what happened with this body, we simulate what happened with it, we find that the situation is very dangerous. When you see this type of torture on the body at the beginning of events, you see the killing methods that happen, you know the next is very dangerous.

End of the English translation transcript,

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IN VIDEO: AL-QAEDA-LINKED MILITANTS ‘DEMOCRATICALLY’ PROTEST AGAINST RUSSIAN-TURKISH PATROLS ALONG M4


Members of Ansar al-Islam (an al-Qaeda-linked militant group created in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2001 and then expanded to Syria) joined the ‘peaceful democratic protest’ against the joint Russian-Turkish patrol along the M4 highway. Members of the group are participating in the sit in on the highway under their democratic jihad banner and sign nashid.
There is nothing strange here. They are just ordinary representatives of the ‘moderate opposition’ in Idlib.
Members of jihadist group Ansar al-Islam sit on the M4 highway in northwest Syria and sing a nasheed in a bid to block joint Turkish-Russian patrols

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By the way, somebody also stole a mobile phone of a Turkish soldider during the encounter with a Turkish military column on the M4 highway on March 15. The Turkish miltiary column (with tanks!) were moving through a ‘demoratic protest’ to particiapte with a joint patrol with the Russian Military Police when this happened.

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GREAT IDLIB REBRANDING AND TURKISH VICTORIES OVER RUSSIAN AIR DEFENSE

South Front

Terrorist groups operating in Idlib are preparing for a new rebranding under Turkish patronage. According to Syrian sources, Hayat Tarir al-Sham (formerly the official Syrian branch of al-Qaeda), the Turkistan Islamic Party (an al-Qaeda-linked group), the National Front for Liberation (a coalition of Turkish proxies friendly to al-Qaeda) and several smaller groups are going to create a united command center and even declare a formal merger.

The idea is to shuffle well-known al-Qaeda terrorists with their supposedly moderate Turkish-backed counterparts, and give them a new name and logo. So, Ankara will have a formal reason to claim that there are no ‘terrorists’ in Idlib and the current situation in the region fully corresponds with the agreements reached with Iran and Russia. These agreements exclude terrorist organizations, which control up to 90% of the militant-held part of Greater Idlib, from the ceasefire and allow military actions against them. The issue is that the same agreements declare that Turkey must separate so-called ‘moderate rebels’ from ‘terrorists’. This is hardly possible because there is little difference between them. Therefore, the Turkish leadership opted to unite them painting them as the ‘moderate opposition’ once again violating the word and spirit of the de-escalation agreements.

Earlier in the conflict, various terrorist groups already employed this approach. For example, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham was previously known as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra. The group changed its name in an attempt to distance itself from al-Qaeda and present itself as part of the moderate opposition that is brutally oppressed by the Assad regime, Iran and Russia. This plan failed because terrorists, even if they change their flag and wear new hats, remain terrorists and continue acting like terrorists.

On March 15, Turkish and Russian forces are set to start conducting joint patrols along the agreed security corridor on the M4 highway in southern Idlib. On March 10, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the patrols will start from the settlement of Trumba – 2 km west of Saraqib – to the settlement of Ain al-Havr. Additionally, Cavusoglu repeated threats that his country will attack Syrian forces if they do not comply with the ceasefire. How this ceasefire will survive with no real anti-terrorist fight in Idlib remains another big secret. According to pro-Turkish sources, the Turkish Army and its proxies will control the part of the security corridor north of the M4, while the Russians will present south of the highway. However, so far, there have been no indications that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other terrorist groups are withdrawing means and forces from the area. This situation creates an apparent pretext for a military escalation.

The public behavior of the Turkish leadership and Turkish media outlets does not help to de-escalate the situation either. Since March 5, Ankara has been doing its best to paint the failed Operation Spring Shield as a major victory. After tiring the audience out with unrealistic numbers of supposed Syrian Army casualties, Turkey moved on to mocking the military capabilities of the Russian air defense systems. On March 10, Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan claimed that his forces had destroyed 8 Pantsir air defense systems in the Idlib zone. This number goes contrary to data provided by the Turkish Defense Ministry which claimed that 8 air defense systems of various types were destroyed during Operation Spring Shield. It seems that the amount of supposedly destroyed military equipment of the Syrian Armed Forces continues to grow.

The Russian Defense Ministry called Erdogan’s claims “more than overestimation” and noted that apparently the data, which the Turkish leader receives about the results of the operation,  is not very precise. The military said that a total of 4 Pantsir systems were deployed in Idlib and only 2 of them were damaged. It recalled that most of the Syrian air defense means and measures are deployed in the area of the country’s capital, Damascus.

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Erdogan Loses the Battle, But the War Is Far from Over

THE SAKER • MARCH 5, 2020


New Map of Idlib with Security Corridor

Following 6 hours of grueling negotiations, including direct negotiations between Putin and Erdogan, the parties have finally agreed to the following:

  1. A ceasefire will begin at midnight.
  2. Russia and Turkey will jointly patrol the M4 highway (M5 now belongs to Damascus). A 6km buffer zone will have to be created and enforced on each side of M4 by the March 15th (see map above)
  3. Both parties have reaffirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  4. Both parties have reaffirmed their commitment to a create the conditions for a return of the refugees.
  5. Both parties have reaffirmed that this conflict as no military solution.

Furthermore, there was a lot of things which were left unsaid, but understood by all:

  1. The recent military gains of the Syrian military will not be disputed and otherwise challenged. The new line of contact has now become official.
  2. Russia and Syria will continue to fight all the organizations which the UNSC has declared “terrorist” (al-Nusra, al-Qaeda, and all their franchises irrespective of any “rebranding”).
  3. Moscow remains as committed to the protection of the legitimate Syrian government as ever.

From the above we can also deduce the following:

  1. Erdogan’s Blitzkrieg has failed. Initially, the Turkish drones inflicted major damage on the Syrian forces, but the latter adapted extremely quickly which resulted in what the Russians jokingly referred to as “dronopad” which can roughly be translated as “dronerain”.
  2. The Turks were clearly shocked by the Russian decision to bomb a Turkish battalion. What apparently happened is this: two Syrian Su-22 (old Soviet aircraft) bombed the convoy to force it to stop, then a pair of Russian Su-34 (the most modern Russian all-weather supersonic medium-range fighter-bomber/strike aircraft) dropped heavy ordinance on the convoy and surrounding buildings killing scores of Turkish special forces). Both sides decided to “blame” the Syrians, but they don’t fly Su-34, and everybody knows that.
  3. Erdogan understood that he either had to double down or declare victory and leave. He wisely chose the latter, at least as a temporary measure.
  4. Neither NATO nor the EU showed any signs of wanting to join Turkey’s war on Syria (because that is what we are really dealing with here), and neither did the US. Since I cannot call that decision “wise” (there is no wisdom of any kind left in western regimes), I will call it simply “prudent” as Russia was not about to allow Turkey to invade Syria.
  5. Iran, Hezbollah, and Libya all declared their willingness to fight the Turks for as long as needed and anywhere where needed.

In spite of these developments, it is pretty clear that internal Turkish politics will continue to force Erdogan to engage in what is politely called “neo-Ottoman” policies aka phantom pains for a lost empire. The obvious solution for Russia is to further arm the Syrians, especially with modernized versions of the Pantsir SAMs which have proven very effective against drones, MLRS rockets and even mortars.

The main Syrian problem is a lack of numbers. Until more forces are equipped, trained, deployed and engaged, the Russians need to provide a much stronger air defense capabilities to Syria. The Syrians have done miracles with old, frankly outdated, Soviet equipment (which, considering its age and lack of proper maintenance, has performed superbly), but now they need much better Russian gear to defend not only against Turkey, but also against the Axis of Kindness (US+Israel+KSA).

Furthermore, it is my opinion that the Russian task force in Khmeimim and Tartus is too big and not well balanced. Khmeimin needs many more Su-25SM3 and a few more Su-35S/Su-30SM to protect them. The naval base at Tartus lacks ASW capabilities, as does much of the Russian naval task force in the eastern Mediterranean. And while the Russian Navy has a number of ships with “Kalibr” cruise missiles onboard, their numbers are, again, inadequate, which means that the Russian Aerospace Forces need to deploy as many Kalibr-capable aircraft in southern Russia as possible. Both Tartus and Khmeimim are pretty close to the Idlib province (that is also were the “good terrorist” tried to strike Russian forces from which, thanks to the successful Syrian offensive, they now cannot do anymore!). This suggests to me that Russia ought to declare a larger exclusive air control zone over both of this locations, and beef up the numbers of missiles and launchers the Russian air defenses will have to enforce it.

Finally, I think that Erdogan has outlived his utility for Russia (and for Turkey, for that matter!). He clearly is a loose cannon which, according to some rumors, even the Turkish public opinion is getting fed up with. Russia should not neglect that public opinion. Then there are the Libyans, “Field Marshal” Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, whose forces seems to have been extremely successful against the Turkish forces in Libya. The Russians are, quietly, supporting Haftar who, while not exactly an ideal ally for Russia, can prove useful. What the Russians need to do next is to explain two things to Erdogan and his ministers:

  1. If you attack again in Syria, you will be defeated, possibly worse than the first time around
  2. If you mess with our geostrategic interests, we will mess with yours

The only party which the Russians should never arm are the Kurds, who are even more unreliable than Erdogan and who are basically an Israeli asset to destabilize Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. Russia should, however, talk to the Kurds (all factions) and convince them to accept a large cultural autonomy inside Syria, Iraq and Iran. Turkey could be added to this list, but only once a trustworthy government comes to power in Ankara. Under no circumstances should Russia arm the Kurds.

Right now, the best Russian ally in the region is Syria. This is the country which Russia needs to make safe by creating a truly modern air defense network. The Russians have already done a lot towards this goal, including integrating their combat management and EW systems, but that is not enough. While Russian aid and Syrian skills have forced the Israelis to conduct mostly symbolic and ineffective air strikes, often with missiles shot from outside the Syrian airspace, and while many (most) Israeli missiles were destroyed by the Syrian air defenses, it is pretty clear that both the Turks and the Israelis feel that if they launch missiles from long distance they are relatively safe. That perception needs to be changed, not only to force the Turks and the Israelis to shoot from even further and accept even more losses, but also to show the US, NATO and Europe that the Syrian air defenses are capable of making anything short of a massive attack pointless (and a massive attack costly).

We should also note that the Turkish propaganda machine has been very effective. Yes, a lot of what they said was self-evidently “feelgood” nonsense (thousands of dead Syrians, hundred of tanks, etc.) , but their footage of a Turkish drone striking a Pantsir in Libya did, at least initially, impress those who don’t understand air defense warfare (destroying a single isolated first-generation Pantsir is not that hard, especially from right above it, but destroying a Pantsir position in which launchers protect each other is quite different. And if that Pantsir position is protected “below” (AA+MANPADS) and “above” (medium to long range SAMs), then this becomes extremely difficult).

This war is not over and it won’t be until Erdogan is removed from power. Frankly, Russia needs a stable and trustworthy partner on her southern border, and that won’t happen until the Turks ditch Erdogan. The problem here is that God only knows who might succeed him, should the Gulenists seize power, that will not be good for Russia either.

And here we come back to the murder of General Suleimani. Frankly, the Iranians are spot on: the two things which made the Middle-East into the bloody mess it has been for decades are 1) Israel and 2) the US. The end goal for the former is a one-state solution, whether accepted or imposed. The intermediate goal ought to be to get the US out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and, possibly, Turkey. Erdogan is crazy and desperate enough (not to mention vengeful) to at least bring this intermediate goal one step closer by alienating the US and NATO. So the Russian game plan ought to be obvious: first, use military means to “contain Erdogan inside Turkey” and, next, engage in long term efforts to prepare for a post-Erdogan Turkey. Then let the SOB destroy himself.

I don’t believe that peace is possible between a secular Syria and a Takfiri-backing Turkey. And I sure don’t believe that the Takfiris can be remolded into any kind of “democratic opposition”. Thus the real end-goal for Russia and Syria will always be military victory, not “peace” (assuming that concept of “peace with the Takfiris” makes any sense at all, which it doesn’t). The Russians know that, even if they won’t admit it.

For the time being, what we see is the first phase of the Turkey-Syria war ending and for the next couple of weeks we shall see a transition into some other phase which will probably be one in which, surprise surprise, the Turks fail to remove all the Takfiri nutcases from Idlib which will then give Syria and Russia a legal reason to take direct action again. In theory, at least, Erdogan could decide to pour the Turkish armed forces across the border, but the closer they will get to Khmeimim and/or Tartus, the more dangerous the stakes for Turkey and for Erdogan personally.

The key to success for the Axis of Resistance is to make Syria too tough to crack. I hope that Russia, Iran, Syria and Iraq will continue to work together, hopefully with Chinese aid, to create such a Syria.

Russia, Turkey Intend to Ease Tensions ‘On Ground’ in Syria: Moscow

February 29, 2020

Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow and Ankara have confirmed their commitment to decreasing tensions on the ground in the fight against terrorism in Syria during the last round of consultations in the Turkish capital.

“Both sides confirmed their determination to ease tensions ‘on the ground’ in the process of continuing fighting terrorists, designated as such by the UN Security Council, as well as to defend the civilian population both within and outside the [Idlib] de-escalation zone and provide urgent humanitarian assistance to all who need it,” the ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Turkey was unable to fulfil several key commitments to solve the problems around Syria’s Idlib province.

In particular, Ankara failed to separate the armed opposition, which is ready for dialogue with the government in the framework of the political process, from terrorists.

According to the Russian-Turkish memorandum, agreed upon by Presidents Putin and Erdogan in September 2018, the status quo for the presence of the Turkish military was agreed to be maintained, provided that all terrorist radical groups withdrew from the Idlib de-escalation zone by 15 October 2018.

It was also stipulated that “effective measures need to be taken to ensure a stable cessation of hostilities” within the borders of this zone. Clause 7 of the memorandum called for joint Russian-Turkish patrols in the area.

Source: Sputnik

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TURKISH-LED FORCES ARE FLEEING FROM SOUTHERN IDLIB. KAFR NUBL IS IN HANDS OF SYRIAN ARMY (MAP UPDATE)

ٍSouth Front

The tactical success of the Turkish Army and Turkish-backed al-Qaeda groups in Nayrab in eastern Idlib turned to be a total disaster for Turkish-led forces in the southern part of the province.

Following the large gains on February 24, on February 25 Syrian government troops liberated the villages of Hass, Kafr Nabl, Bisaqla, Ba’rabu, Qiratah, Sahab, Qa’uri and Deir Sunbol. Kafr Nabl was the main strong point of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) in this part of the frontline. Its fall marks the collapse of the group’s defense in the area.

According to pro-government sources, in the coming days Syrian troops are planning to clear the area of Zawiyah Mountain and shorten the frontline on the administrative border between the provinces of Idlib and Lattakia. When this is done, the Syrian Army and its allies will be able to advance further towards the M4 highway.

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MEE: UK Gov’t’s Covert Propaganda Campaign in Syria

By Staff, MEE

The British government covertly established a network of citizen journalists across Syria during the early years of the country’s war in an attempt to shape perceptions of the conflict, frequently recruiting people who were unaware that they were being directed from London.

A number of leaked documents seen by Middle East Eye show how the propaganda initiative began in 2012 and gathered pace the following year, shortly after the UK parliament refused to authorize British military action in Syria.

Drawing upon British, American and Canadian funding, UK government contractors set up offices in Istanbul and Amman, where they hired members of the Syrian diaspora, who in turn recruited citizen journalists inside Syria.

These journalists, many of them young, were commissioned to produce TV footage, radio programs, social media, posters, magazines and even children’s comics.

While many Syrians turned spontaneously to media activism from the start of the war, the documents describe the way in which the British government sought to guide some of their output, seeing citizen journalism as a way of covertly influencing Syrian audiences.

The papers also make clear that those people who were recruited were often unaware that they were part of a British propaganda initiative.

Some of those who were recruited have defended their involvement, however, saying that they were reliant on western support in their efforts to counter pro-government reporting in Syrian state media, and in Iranian and Russian-backed media.

At a time when the last opposition-held enclave in Idlib province is under assault by pro-government forces, they questioned whether western countries could have contributed more material support to moderate rebels.

Some Syrian journalists complained that western support for their work was decreasing even as it was most needed.

The documents were drawn up as blueprints for the initiative by an anthropologist working in counter-terrorism at the foreign office in London. They were issued in late 2014 to a small number of communications companies that were invited to bid for three contracts to deliver the work.

The documents show that the over-arching aim of the citizen journalism project – and a series of interlinked British propaganda initiatives – was to promote the UK’s strategic interests in Syria and the Middle East.

These are defined in the leaked papers as “a more stable and democratic Syria that better meets the needs and aspirations of its people”, support for a political solution to the conflict, the alleviation of humanitarian suffering, and enhanced UK security.

As well as developing grassroots journalism aligned with British government values, the UK and other western governments were at the same time attempting to build civil society in areas controlled by some of Assad’s opponents, financing and training police forces and civil defense teams.

The anthropologist’s blueprint makes clear that this was being done not just to help maintain law and order and provide humanitarian assistance, but “to build confidence in a future Syria free from extremist rule”.

However, the documents acknowledge the risks to the young journalists who had unwittingly been co-opted by the British government.

The British government’s citizen journalism project was part of a three-pronged propaganda initiative that was developed in London and was, according to the documents, intended to “have a synergistic effect”.

The first strand, named Syrian Identity, sought to “unite Syrians through positive affirmation of common cultures and practices and to restore trust between neighbors, while illustrating Syrians’ strength in numbers,” according to the blueprint.

The documents explain that the second strand, called Free Syria, “seeks to build confidence in a future Syria free from extremist rule”.

It “amplifies the work of the ‘free’ police, civil defense teams and wider public service provision and broader developments in civil society and seeks to unite the moderate opposition (civil and armed) to work for a common future”.

The third, known as Undermine, “seeks to degrade the effectiveness of VE [violent extremist] networks in Syria by undermining the credibility of VE narratives and actors and isolating VE organizations from the populace.”

The document goes on, using a different acronym for IS: “ISIL is an explicit and named focus, Al Nusra Front (due to its current popularity within Syria) is addressed indirectly through its behavior.

“The purpose of the project to directly ‘Undermine’ (degrading the effectiveness of) VE networks in Syria through the delivery of media product, the emboldening and empowering of moderate voices, and supporting community coalescence around a vision of a tolerant, pluralist Syria. Ultimately, active Syrian rejection of VE is the requirement.”

The documents add that the research underpinning the initiative “will need to be able to draw upon open source material, jihadist discourse and, in particular, a network of assets inside Syria”.

Individuals familiar with the project say that around nine companies were invited to bid for the contracts. They included a number of firms established by former British diplomats, intelligence officers and army officers.

Although the contracts were awarded by the UK’s foreign office, they were managed by the country’s Ministry of Defense, and sometimes by military intelligence officers.

These companies set up offices in Amman, Istanbul and, for a period, at Reyhanli in southeast Turkey. From here they would employ Syrians who would in turn recruit citizen journalists inside Syria, who were under the impression that they were working for the media offices of Syrian opposition groups.

Meanwhile, other leaked documents seen by MEE show that the British government had awarded contracts to communications companies, which selected and trained opposition spokespeople, ran press offices that operated 24 hours a day, and developed opposition social media accounts.

British staff running these offices were told that their Syrian employees were permitted to talk to British journalists – as spokespeople for the Syrian opposition – but only after receiving clearance from officials at the British consulate in Istanbul.

One of the responsibilities of the press offices set up covertly by the British government under the terms of these contracts was to “maintain an effective network of correspondents/stringers inside Syria to report on MAO [moderate armed opposition] activity”.

In this way, the British government was able to exert behind-the-scenes influence over conversations that the UK media was having with individuals who presented themselves as Syrian opposition representatives.

People involved with the operation say that some prominent British journalists visiting Istanbul would be introduced to Syrians acting as opposition spokespeople, who had been prepared for the encounter by British handlers.

They say they would brief the Syrians before the meeting, and avoid any face-to-face contact with the visiting journalists themselves.

TURKISH SULTAN-IN-CHIEF ON GUARD FOR AL-QAEDA IN IDLIB

South Front

Tensions between the United States and Russia are growing in northeastern Syria. On February 19, a video appeared online showing how an armored vehicle of the U.S. military was pushing a vehicle of the Russian Military Police off a road. The US move endangered a civilian standing near the road. If he had not run away in time, he would have been killed by the vehicle. The incident reportedly took place to the east of the city of al-Qamishli in the northern al-Hasakah countryside.

Russian air defense forces repelled a drone and missile attack on the Hmeimim airbase in the province of Latakia. Pro-government sources reported that the attack was carried out from the southern part of the Idlib de-escalation zone, where militants are still present.

On February 19, Turkish Sultan-in-Chief Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that the Turkish military has finished preparations for an operation against the Syrian Army in Greater Idlib, and its start is inevitable because Syrian troops are not planning to withdraw from the recently liberated areas. On the same day, Turkey continued deployment of additional troops and equipment to the region, as well as directly to the frontline. The frontline areas where the Turkish military presence is especially strong is the eastern countryside of Idlib city and the town of Atarib. Turkish media outlets are enthusiastically drawing maps of a possible Turkish aggression.

Pro-Turkish sources claim that the operation in Idlib will not only help to rescue supposed civilians from the regime offensive, but to separate the so-called moderate opposition from terrorists. According to these claims, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Turkistan Islamic Party and other al-Qaeda-linked groups, which make up over 80% of Idlib militants, will be disbanded. It would be interesting to see how Ankara would go about disbanding and disarming the forces that it has been supplying with weapons and supporting so much. Do Turkish media outlets really expect their audience to believe that from one moment to the next tens of thousands of battle-hardened al-Qaeda members are going to abandon their ideology and become florists or Instagram bloggers?

MAP COMPARISON: 

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The Progress for the Battle for Idlib

February 07, 2020

By Blake Archer Williams for the Vineyard of the Saker

The Syrian government’s last push to get rid of foreign and domestic terrorists from its soil started on December 19th, and has met with great success. Since then, over 1,200 square kilometers of territory have been liberated.

The main frontline of the war is currently to the area southeast of Idlib city, with gains having taken place as follows:

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https://english.iswnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/idlib-6-2-20-17-11-98.jpg

Sarāqīb, which is shown as having been surrounded in the above map, has been liberated, as have Sarmīn, Afs, Duweir, Talafa, and Zammār:

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Here is a picture of a sign posted outside Safāqīb by the Takfiri terrorists. It says: “Shī’a Beware” (although the term it uses for the Shi’a is the pejorative term which the takfiris use (which unfortunately consists of many if not most Sunnis): rawāfed.

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The Syrian army will continue its march of liberation northwards. As can be seen in the second map, the next towns to the east and northeast of Idlib City are Binish, Fū‘a, and Kafraya. These small towns are mentioned in this short clip in which these takfiri terrorists have been captured vowing not to abandon Binish and threatening to kill the Shi’a of Fū‘a, and Kafraya:

Here is another video clip of the “democratic rebels” in Idlib teaching a child how to sing about the slaughter of Shi’as and Alawites while waving a knife and celebrating the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Here is the link to the thread by HadiNasrallah for those who want to learn more about this: https://twitter.com/HadiNasrallah/status/1038466799950589953

And here is an earlier clip showing the “moderate rebels” taunting a 12-year old boy before they cut his head off:

Here are some pictures of one of those “rebels”, Hamza Al Kateab, whose wife was given an award by the British equivalent of the Oscars for a propaganda film she made in support of these scum:

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Hamza Al Kateab wearing a tuxedo at BAFTA where his wife won an award for her propaganda film

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Hamza with child beheader Maayouf Abu Bahr

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Hamza again with Maayouf

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Maayouf & Friends before they beheaded 12 yr old Abdallah Issa

And now the US is petitioning the United Nations to help it and its Europoodle accomplices stop the Syrian Army from eradicating these “people”. You can’t make this stuff up: truth is stranger than fiction.

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Meanwhile, in other news… encouraged by the success of the electoral campaign of a self-confessed cork-sucker in Iowa, Sultan Erdogan, one of the main sponsors of these terrorists, has decided to come clean:

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Syrian Army Cleaned the Strategic City of Maarat Numan from NATO Terrorists

January 28, 2020 Arabi Souri

Maarat al-Numan city is liberated from NATO terrorists by the Syrian Arab Army and its allies, the city is the largest city in the southern countryside of Idlib province.

After the fiercest clashes with all of NATO, all of the Gulfies, and all of the evil powers on Earth supporting the human garbage of Nusra Front and its affiliates, the Syrian Arab Army proved once again they are the masters of the fight against terror. The SAA managed to neutralize dozens of NATO terrorists in the last 24 hours.

The resumption of the military campaign to clean the province of Idlib and the countryside of Aleppo from terrorists came after the last ceasefire collapsed when once again the Turkish pariah Erdogan intentionally failed to commit to his own promises by separating foreign non-moderate terrorists forming the backbone of the ‘Syrian’ opposition from the moderate head-choppers of the same opposition.

Units of the SAA are combing the streets and allies block by block and apartment by apartment for remnants of terrorists and for explosives they usually plant in every corner of the places they infest to continue to cause maximum harm and suffering among the Syrian people after they leave.

Damascus – Aleppo International Highway aka M5 artery goes right through the city connecting the political capital and most populated city of Syria with the economic capital and powerhouse Aleppo.

Maarat Numan has been infested by NATO terrorists since October 2012 and ever since has been their launchpad to carry out their terrorist attacks against other towns and cities in addition to cutting off the international highway connecting Syria’s north with its south.

NATO countries and their international stooges have tried all their best to impede the military operation to clean Maarat Numan and the rest of Idlib from their terrorists, their terrorists intensified their indiscriminate bombing of the residential neighborhoods of Aleppo, which at the time of writing this report news are coming that the NATO Front (al-Qaeda Levan) terrorists left Al Rashideen 4th neighborhood in the city, and also some NATO ‘special forces’ have sabotaged Syrian undersea oil pipelines as a way to pressure the Syrian state and also to punish the Syrian people who are in dire need of every oil drop for their daily living needs.

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